Hi there, y’all.
Ok, I still feel a little weird saying “y’all.” It is, though, the standard greeting here in the Deep South, and when in Rome . . .
Allow me to back up. Not long ago, tired of the frozen tundra, a dysfunctional work environment, and alternate-side street parking, I packed my bags and migrated south for a new job, a house with a yard, and more closet space. I left behind New York City, a place I’d called home for almost twenty years.
My sweet husband, whom we’ll call the Italian, was of course by my side. The Italian had never lived further south than Brooklyn, but like any good rogue was game for an adventure. He happily crammed his snowshoes, kayak paddle and large collection of vinyl records into our tiny, city-sized car, and we hit the road.
[Two things about that last paragraph: 1., The Italian is not native Italian, as in born-and-raised-in-Italy-with-a-gnocchi-making-nonna Italian, like Eloisa James’s husband. In fact, he had never even been to Italy before our honeymoon. He is, though, pretty thoroughly Italian-American: his family eats polenta and bacalao (salted cod) every Good Friday, and “Belli” is not a fancy romance-writer pseudonym I pulled out of a hat. It’s my actual married last name. 2. He really did bring snowshoes to the Deep South, where on a very snowy year we might see one inch of snow. Might.]
After jumping around and squeeing about said house, yard and closet space, all of which were deeply exciting to someone who had lived her adult life crammed into tiny city apartments (finally, room for the shoes!), I settled into the new job, discovered that offices are kinda dysfunctional everywhere, and promptly got knocked up.
Enter the bambino. Our southern-born, adorable nugget of awesomeness. I know everyone thinks their babies are the best, and we are no exception. But he really is a wonderful baby. Like, we-get-stopped-in-the-grocery-store-on-a-regular-basis-so-people-can-marvel-at-his-cuteness wonderful.
Things I love about our new town in the Deep South: the food. Dear god, the biscuits. Cake. Nobody makes cake like people in the south make cake. Spring. In the northeast spring was my least favorite season, being a cold, wet, muddy, brown, miserable waiting room for summer. Spring in the Deep South is a long gorgeous sigh of riotous color, cool breezes on sunny days, and no mosquitos (yet). I like the people, who really are that friendly, though I still get a little startled when they casually drop Jesus into a conversation (nothing against Jesus, or any major religious figure. I’m just not used to hearing his name bandied about so casually). And it’s cheap. We’re still in that phase of comparing everything to city prices and marveling (“Two dollars?! This beer would be nine dollars back home!”).
Things I miss about Brooklyn: the pizza. Being able to dart to the corner store when you’re in the middle of a recipe and need cream of tartar, or a single leek, rather than having to get into a car and drive somewhere (why haven’t corner stores taken off everywhere? They’re so convenient). The restaurants. Concerts in the park – I used to be able to walk five blocks and see Wilco perform. My friends.
We live in a university town, which in some ways is a mini-Brooklyn. There’s good music, good bars, and good food.
Still, it’s a lot of change in a short period of time: new state, new job, new house, new baby. While possibly crazy, it actually seemed a good time to throw caution to the wind and add a new career as well. One I’d been tinkering with on the sly for a while. So I dusted off my partially-written manuscript for a historical romance novel, finished it up, cleaned it up, and now am buckling up for a brand new adventure, the Italian and the bambino in tow. Hope you’ll come along for the ride!