I was clearly out of my element as I embedded what I had left of my fingernails into the door handle of my sister’s car.
It was my first time ever in the bustling little town of Boston. And it might be my last.
“How do people live like this,” I asked, as a horn bellowed into my ear, followed by a few choice words from a man dressed in a John Adams costume.
I wanted my country roads. I wouldn’t even mind those big tractors hogging up the roads. I wanted my fellow driver allowing me to turn first. I wanted my quick conversation at the red light.
I wanted my South back.
Don’t get me wrong. I really enjoyed visiting my sister this past week in New England. She really rolled out the red carpet with a few days at Cape Cod.
With my plane landing in Boston, I thought it would be the perfect opportunity to visit a city I have only seen in photographs.
I was wrong.
Snaking through a endless maze of tunnels, I was greeted by hundreds of vehicles. Horns honking, little ladies cursing, winding cramped roads, $35 an hour parking garages...
It was pretty intense.
“I don’t care where we park, just get me out of this car,” I begged, as my sister turned illegally down a road, running a stop sign. “Let’s just stop and get a bite to eat, and then get the heck out of here.”
We managed to find a parking garage that was reasonably priced, and we made our way up to the Top of the Hub. It was a very nice restaurant on top of one of the tallest buildings in the city. It overlooked Boston, which was breathtaking.
As I settled in for a plate of shrimp, I gazed out over the city. It really was beautiful. And more importantly, it was safe.
“You wanna go to Fenway Park,” my sister asked.
“That’s OK,” I said, pointing to the iconic park in the distance. “I can see it from up here. I am not about to battle that down there again.”
After the nice waitress looked at me like I was speaking a foreign language when I asked for Tabasco sauce, we paid our checks and made our way back out to the concrete jungle.
It took us almost three hours to get to our destination at Cape Cod. It was only an hour-long trip, but we were the smart ones who decided to drive in the five o’clock Boston traffic.
Over the next few days, I was in paradise. The beaches were very relaxing. The community was very clean. The locals were very nice. The house didn’t even have an air-conditioner, but we didn’t need it. And I got to spend some much-needed time with my sister.
But I was ready to get back to Yazoo and my own family by the end of the trip.
When I returned home to the Patterson abode, the first thing I did was eat a hot plate of fried okra, straight from our backyard garden. That was my entire meal. I probably would have fried a tire and eaten it that night.
Being away from the South for a few days made me appreciate her even more.
Sure, she has made headlines recently. One newspaper article even said the South was one of the worst places to live.
But I came close to kissing the ground when my plane landed back home.
The heat sucked the life out of me when I walked out of the airport. But wiping the sweat off my forehead, I took it all in with a deep breath.
I soaked it all in as we traveled down the highway No one honked their horn at me in anger. I was waved at by an elderly man in a pick-up truck. Gravel roads snaked off the main highway. And pastures and farm land were the scenery on our way home.
That night the sound of frogs, crickets and other critters danced around the house as the sun settled into the land. And the smell of fresh vegetables cooking eased through the house.
It felt good to hear the country-accent and down-home sayings of my family that night. Not having to explain what I was saying was also nice.
My head hit the pillow that night glad to be back home surrounded by my loved ones, humidity, greasy food and a slower pace.
But I smiled when I thought of the bowl of tomato gravy and biscuits I left my family up north to heat up the next morning.
I would like to think they slowed down, sopped up their biscuit with a lump of gravy, lengthened their words and blessed somebody’s heart.