It's interesting how much one can be a product of her or his environment. I am such a Northeastern girl--I was born and raised in New York, thirty minutes upstate of the city. The later half of my life, I lived in Jersey, where I attended university. The past five years, I lived in the New England area in little Rhode Island. Everything (except Rhode Island) is big in the northeast--numbers, cities, plans, goals. We do things with a sense of urgency and are frustrated by inefficiency. All of my dearest friends are go-getter-types and most work in corporate settings. It's difficult for us to s l o w down and be present in the moment.
This shifts any time I visit my parents, who are now down south, or A's family in the midwest. Although I've been to the midwest countless times, this time has been the longest stretch. And I'm taking it s l o w. We're spending most of our time in the small town where A grew up, where we can walk to the local bakery, snap photos of its corners and the light coming in, and listen to stories of when it was a pharmacy and the wooden drawers "were labeled names like 'phosphorous'." The local shopkeepers chat you up while cashing you out and offer complimentary gift wrapping, the kind where you can choose the color ribbon. And there's corn everywhere.
On this day, A took me to the red covered bridge, a landmark of the town. Without much traffic and sitting on top of a stream, it was a quiet place to visit in the late afternoon. More recently, we drove down to Missouri to spend a couple sweltering days out on the water (this sunscreen is a godsend), the first day in canoes and the second day in rafts. In the evenings, we had delicious grilled food and good conversation. And just the other day, we drove into Chicago to see Hamilton (an early Christmas present from A's mom) which was absolutely brilliant.
It's not a permanent lifestyle for me, but I'm appreciating the change of pace, especially before our move to busy Seoul. I'm looking forward to documenting more of its charms and sipping plenty of sweet tea over the next few days. (Cannot process that I'm leaving the country for two years this week!)