I have been back “home” in South Carolina for about three weeks now. And while it is true that many things here have changed over the three years I lived in South America (like roads, the cost of living, and the fact that my nephews each grew about two feet taller), I have noticed that some things never change.
One of the first things I felt the moment I stepped off the airplane several weeks ago was the humidity. The words “hot and humid” really do belong together, especially south of the Mason-Dixon Line in the summertime. It’s enough to make you want to set a spell on the porch with a big glass of sweet tea in one hand, and a Scarlett O’Hara fan in the other. Some things never change.
Another thing I noticed right away is that people you don’t even know wave at you. This is especially true in my neighborhood. I have only officially met three of my neighbors, but everyone else on my street has waved at me at least once as I drove by. Usually EVERY TIME I drive by. I can’t help but smile as I wave back. Some things never change.
I am thrilled beyond words that both of my parents are here, alive and well. But even though I am quickly approaching the half century mark they still worry about their “little girl.” And I’m OK with that, because I worry about them, too. Some things never change.
People in South Carolina still pull off the side of the road when there is a funeral procession. I’ve had friends from other places say that this is an antiquated and dangerous practice, to which I say, some things never change.
Death itself does not change. It still comes. Death claimed the sister of a dear friend this past week. And in this case, I really wish it weren’t so, but some things never change.
I ran into an old friend from high school at the grocery store the other day who greeted me with, “Hey, Kristi!” (what my family and friends from my youth still call me). And while I recognized this guy immediately, I just couldn’t find his name in my brain. I searched and searched while I made small talk and lame comments like, “Man, you look great!” I mean, it’s been like 30 years since I’ve seen this guy. He kept this sly little smile hanging at the corners of his mouth until he finally relieved my suffering with, “I’m Johnny Williams, by the way.” My witty repartee? “Oh, Johnny, I knew that!” Some things never change.
When my husband and I were living in Ecuador we didn’t have a car. Didn’t need one. Ecuador (and South America in general) has pretty good public transportation consisting of buses, trains, and a person’s own two feet. And while larger cities in the states do have public transit systems, that is not the case most places in the south. So, after borrowing my father’s car for a few weeks, I put on my big girl panties and went out to find some wheels.
Now the salesman I worked with at the KIA dealership was really nice and helpful, but he was still a car salesman. With a tag team buddy. It wasn’t long before a good cop, bad cop scene slowly unfurled in front of me. Then came the song and dance. What they didn’t realize is I had just come from the land of supreme negotiators, so my wheelin’-and-dealin’ arsenal was both deep and wide. I ended up with a sweet deal on a great car, but the process and the salesmen? Some things never change.
Since I have been back many of my friends (from here and Ecuador) have made comments along the lines of, “It must be difficult to be back,” or “How are you adjusting?,” and I must admit that these queries confound me a little. I have returned to the place of my upbringing. I am surrounded by lovely and kooky people with whom I share rich experiences and memories. I am once again steeped in my native tongue. I am lulled to sleep at night by crickets and my favorite season will soon appear on my doorstep. And while I do agree with Thomas Wolfe that “You Can’t Go Home Again,” I did come home. And I am so thankful that some things never change.
K. Kris Loomis is the author of the humorous travel memoir, Thirty Days In Quito: Two Gringos and a Three-Legged Cat Move to Ecuador. She also writes adult parables and short stories as well as books about yoga and meditation. Kris is a determined chess player, an origami enthusiast, a classically trained pianist, and a playwright. She lives in South Carolina with her husband and two cats.
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