For some time now, my wife and I have struggled to make a crucial decision. For some time now, we have been contemplating a move. We have been contemplating leaving the South and moving to the Northeast.
Not that we do not find our quality of life satisfying here; we do. We have been blessed and lead very good lives. And not that we are fleeing some virulent racism or discrimination here; we are not. I think that racism and discrimination exist in equal measures throughout the country, so in that regards, I would much rather deal with the devil I know as opposed to the devil I don’t know.
However, the dearth of cultural opportunities in our area prompts us to consider the move. Culturally, Northeast Florida most resembles Southeast Georgia. Many of the major shows, concerts, and exhibits pass us by altogether. We often find ourselves having to drive north to Atlanta or southwest to Orlando or in some cases, even as far south as Miami to take part in these cultural events. And needless to say, that gets very expensive and time consuming, so we must carefully and judiciously pick and choose the events we attend.
And for the past few years, we have endeavored to spend time in the Northeast during the summer so that we might take part in the range of cultural offerings. Each and every time we are there, it is like a whirlwind tour with us running from this place and that place, trying to get it all in before it’s time to return home. But this too gets expensive and tiring, plus there are other places we would like to go and explore during our extended summer vacations.
Now our relatives and Facebook friends around the country taunt us daily by bragging about the events that have attended. Just last week someone posted a status update about attending a play I have been wanting to see for years. And I have a Facebook friend who lives in the New York area who is forever boasting about the free concerts he attends on almost a weekly basis.
Needless to say, we are now growing impatient. Our children are getting older, and if we are going to make that move, the time is now. Plus, we have solid job opportunities in the area that will not be there forever. So, what are we waiting for? My wife is more than ready, but I can’t make up my mind.
Playwright August Wilson once wrote that the South is the cultural homeland for African Americans. It is in the South within that dreadful, horrific crucible of slavery where our culture was born. It is here where those sustaining values and traditions were formed. It is here where deprived of a meaningful existence, we improvised. Given the offal of animals, we created our own unique foods. Out of the daily anguish and heartbreak of bondage, we created the only musical form to originate in this country.
And I have been blessed to have traveled all over the world. I have lived in many places outside the South; New Jersey, Seattle, and California are just a few that come readily to mind. But where ever I have traveled to and where ever I have lived, I have found myself longing for the South.
I found myself longing for those almost endless rural roads lined with kudzu. I missed the familiar sounds and smells, the familiar accents, the familiar foods. I missed my family and friends, and most of all, I missed the slow, laid back pace of life in the South. And each and every time, I found some reason, some excuse, to escape back down South.
So, I guess I have written myself to a decision this morning. There is no need for me to go anywhere. Any move would simply be a waste of time. I would be happy for a short while. I would probably busy myself going to museums and shows and plays and monuments. But that would probably grow old really quick. My mind would begin to wonder and invisible strings would begin to tug at my heart, and before long I would find myself with my family in tow headed south on I-95, headed back down South.