Leaving Salem: Just Who Do You Think You Are?
Not long after I moved to the beach I stopped by my favorite coffee shop. I had visited this café often while on vacation over the years, but I was now visiting it as a local. The early spring sun was shining across the emerald water, and the gulf breeze was blowing warm.
On this particular morning, my coffee shop – sorry I’ve claimed it as my own – was filled with busy, beautiful, wealthy people: Women with tans, cleavage, and tank tops; men with muscles and sunburns around their fresh haircuts; and children with miniature sunglasses and sandy butts.
Businessmen on vacation were lap-topping the wireless internet with the same ferociousness as they drank their double espressos. Teenage girls were chatting and texting up the proverbial storm over their cell phones. Young men were on the prowl.
Parked in the lot, draped across surgically altered bodies, and dangling from wrists, ears, and fingers were the marks of American wealth and prosperity. Taking in all these sights and sounds I suddenly felt a strange pride blossom in my chest.
I was now a part of this – all of this. This was my brave new world. This was my home. I ambled up to the counter and ordered my favorite mocha disguising best I could my severe southern accent.
Of course my grandmother had a phrase for the charade I was conducting. She would say, “You’ve gotten too big for your own britches.” She was right. And I was about to learn this lesson the hard way.
I stepped out on to the porch of the coffee shop so pleased with how well I fit into this culture of sea, sand, and success, and so very pleased with myself. It was then I saw a gargantuan orange cat sitting on the hood of my car.
The well-polished veneer I had been maintaining suddenly cracked, and then collapsed. Before I could do anything else, the hillbilly inside of me got loose like turning the mule toward the barn at the end of the day.