Thursday, May 3, 2018

Homesick for Anderson

I got homesick. It could be that I’m old. Or, in Orlando in January, it was cold and rainy. It could be that instead of spending three days hanging out with my daughter, Hope, during her last week of interning at Walt Disney World, I spent three days in bed with a headache if my head hit the pillow or nausea when I stood up, accompanied by vertigo returning from a three-year hiatus.

I got homesick. I had big reading and writing plans when Hope was working. I had mother/daughter shopping plans when Hope wasn’t working.  My only interruption was to be football. 
Instead, I watched only the second half of the Outback Bowl. Luckily for me, it was the right half, the one in which the Gamecocks decided to win.  I drove eight miles to Wal-Greens and bought over-the-counter medication, crackers and Ginger Ale. On the way home, I stopped at a Chick-fil-a drive-thru for soup, shivering when I rolled the window down. This took an hour and a half.  I stayed awake for the first half of the Sugar Bowl, then tossed and turned all night, waking every two hours with a headache, wondering the outcome but too miserable to check my phone. 
I got homesick before the virus, though, which is rare for me.  I’ve always enjoyed traveling, and we’ve been to Walt Disney World many times. But I got homesick in that city that week.  
Maybe it was all the lights on all the buildings or all the people in all the lines or all the noise on all the attractions or all the hours spent writing at a tiny desk in a tiny hotel room while all my family took naps or all the cars on all the crowded roads or all the minutes (three was the average) at all the traffic lights or all the frost on all the windows in the parking lots. 

Whatever it was, I couldn’t wait to be back in Anderson, South Carolina.  I drove myself, Hope, and the contents of her apartment to Anderson/HOME on a cold January Thursday, stopping once in the nine-hour trip.
Humor me while I tell you the rest of this fascinating story. 
Arriving home at 4:30PM, I went straight to bed.  I stayed in bed all day on Friday.  Saturday, I went to primary care, where I blacked out twice in the waiting room.  I had lost three pounds in one week, and the nurse thought she had misread my blood pressure. It was 80/60. I was severely dehydrated, which explained the return of vertigo.  
I welcomed a steroid shot. There was a shortage of fluid, so I was sent home with Gatorade instructions.  I felt better for two days, then returned to the doctor again for another shot and more hydration instructions. 
When you’re sick, you have time to think. What else can you do when you’re curled up under blankets drinking all that water and Gatorade not feeling well enough to read?
This is what I came up with. I learned something about myself in Florida. I’m a South Carolina snob. No, I’m an Upstate South Carolina snob because I’m also a four seasons snob.  
What else did I learn?  I’m a small-town snob and most definitely an Anderson snob.When I go to bed at night, my street and my home are dark and quiet. My drive to work is twelve minutes. It could be shorter, but I don’t drive over the speed limit anymore. Speeding tickets, I tell myself, are for the young and impatient; plus, I’m determined to keep my safe-driver discount. The longest red light in my day is the one-minute light next to Westside High School. I used to roll my eyes when caught there.  Used to.  
When I got homesick, I made a decision.  I will NEVER (I’m old enough to say never) live in a town bigger than Anderson, S.C., unless Anderson gets bigger than Anderson.  You know what I mean?  
I like to go. I like to travel. In fact, I have a long bucket list of destinations, but I know that Anderson, Home, the Electric City with four seasons, will be waiting for me.

Seasons of an Electric City

Your air turns cold as expected,
Yet we fret over fickle weather predicted,
Then laugh at ourselves for doubting your snowy surprise,
Oh, how you jest.
Some groan. Some dance,
At your attempt to make us rest.

Your temperatures warm and please,
And we delight in the early aroma, knowing you tease,
Then marvel at the pink, yellow, purple, and white blooms.
Oh, how you renew.
Some drive. Some walk,
On your streets lined with the softest hue.

Your heat takes our breath away,
But we gather, splash, sweat and play,
Then smack the mosquitoes and search for relief indoors.
Oh, how you ignite.
Some travel. Some stay,
As your landscape bursts at daylight.

Your trees amaze with their display,
For we lengthen our sleeves and watch our teams play,
Then carve and decorate, speak of blessings, and feast.
Oh, how you submit.
Some retire. Some pray,
In your early evenings, cool and moonlit.    
Your seasons electrify our community,
So we make a home, build friendships, find opportunity,
Then open our hearts and minds, and smile content.
Oh, how you grace.
Some ridicule. Some cherish,
Within your city of familiar face.

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