There's a feeling that hits me whenever I go home to Carolina. It's like I've been holding my breath and didn't even realize it. I exhale and for a little while a weight is lifted from my back, neck, and shoulders that I forgot was there.
Finally, I can breathe.
The most noticeable difference, at least to me, is my accent. Despite what the Yankees I work with and live around say, most days I don't have one. But once I cross that border South, suddenly, I'm drawling. And I don't even care. As soon as I exhale that breath I exhale the energy needed to keep two syllable words from becoming five.
I can't stress enough that I am happy where I am. My life's not perfect but I'm doing and working toward what I've always wanted and still want. But some times you just have to go home. And that means "home home" to my hometown, and the places that feel like home. Like Chapel Hill.
And despite what North Carolinian Thomas Wolfe said about home, that you can never go again, I think you can, and that Mr. Wolfe secretly agreed, too. Because he also wrote this, about our beloved alma mater:
"But sometimes when the springtime comes,
And the sifting moonlight falls --
They'll think again of this night here
And of these old brown walls,
Of white Old Well, and of old South
With bell's deep booming tone,
They'll think again of Chapel Hill and --
Thinking -- come back home."
Not a day goes by that I don't think and go back there. Some days it's just a peaceful feeling and some days it's an all consuming desire to be anywhere but where I am. But I don't romanticize my time there. It was hard and demoralizing and stressful. Some days I needed to be anywhere but there and by the end of it I felt completely broken. But I am who I am because of it all and it just goes to show how you can love something all in even when it isn't perfect.