It’s a rainy Labor Day morning, and I’m having my coffee on the screen porch, listening to the water hit the leaves and the whistle of a train a couple miles away. Does anywhere outside the South love the screen porch like we do, I wonder? Other regions might use outdoor living spaces more, but I’ve always thought of the screen porch as a characteristically Southern thing, where you drink your tea or your coffee and socialize and laugh at the skeeters that cain’t get atcha. We love our screen porches so much that we put ceiling fans in them, so when the mercury spikes we can still sit outside with a nice cold glass of sweet tea; forget the fact that there’s A/C inside the house.
My granddad used to tell a story about when his parents repainted their farmhouse; his dad was always looking for a good deal on such frivolous things as house color, so he hired industrial painters to spray paint the house for cheap. Lo and behold, they painted the whole house a shimmering silver, screen porch included. My grandma would then add a little visual detail to the story, like she was wont to do, recalling that one of the things her father-in-law liked to do while he and Grandma Lily sat on the screen porch was to dip snuff. He’d spit it off the porch, through the screen, and before long the silver screen turned a rainbow of colors from his snuff.
Our screen porch isn’t silver or rainbow; it’s cedar and black, but it’s best feature is that when you’re on it you feel like you’re in a tree house, because the house is built on a hill and it drops off at such an angle that you’re eye level with the squirrel’s nests in the trees.
Remember my ramble Hobbits, Koreans, and Courage, about unfamiliar situations and leaving home and going on adventure? Well, it’s happening, although the significance of leaving home is just now starting to sink in. I’ve been very nonchalantly telling people of my upcoming move to Wales like it’s just across the street, no big deal, but as the distance to my departure shrinks (two weeks and one day), a silent panic grows. Yes, I am excited. SO excited. But twelve months is a long time – twelve months without my family, without my friends, without my church home, without screen porches, without barbecue – it began to set in yesterday when I said see you later (later being several months, possibly twelve) to a friend I haven’t gone more than a couple months without seeing in about 21 years. The drive home was a long one, across the upper part of the state, where there are apple farms every few miles, with the low, with the rambling foothills of the Appalachians in view. Driving near/in/around the mountains is just about my favorite place to drive – really, the only place where I don’t mind driving for more than five minutes. The drive home somehow morphed into a metaphor for my last American experiences and all the goodbyes I have to make in the next couple weeks, and all the nonchalance I had felt toward moving to another country melted away, leaving a mixture of sadness and nervous anticipation.
But while I am sad, I’m also happy – so don’t misunderstand. I’m moving to Wales!