Friday, June 24, 2011

Born Again Southern Belle

Dirty little secret: I was born in Virginia. And then spent the first 3+ years living further South still. So you wouldn't think that moving here as an adult would be so...challenging.

And yet, as my long-suffering friends and even longer-suffering spouse can attest, I haven't done so well at adjusting to living here on this side of the Mason-Dixon line. The grass isn't actually greener on the other side (not with all this rain), but it is more likely to support gay rights, oppose policy making by "christians" and just occasionally eat something that isn't breaded and fried.

But this week, while riding to and from work in 80+ degree temperatures and 10-to-the-kajillionth-power humidity, I think I actually figured it out. This part of the country was simply never intended to function within the parameters of the 21st Century; arguably it never quite mastered the 20th Century. Moving at the speed of a bicyclist one can appreciate the inefficiencies for what they are: opportunities to shirk one's duties. As they say here in my adopted home state, "Take off your shoes, Sweetheart, it's all id and no ego down here. Can I get you a julep?" (Try fitting THAT on a license plate.)

Mis-timed traffic lights aren't a reason to curse the imbecile in front of you and grip the steering wheel until you get a stress fracture, they are an opportunity to stop, sip some cool water, and observe the eccentric gentlemen across the street wearing a construction paper hat. Endless Metro delays, with their bad habit of stranding you in a tunnel just when you realize that you really kind of have to pee, are not of your concern moving as you are at about the pace of a horse and buggy. Need a pit stop? Why, there's Trader Joe's and the opportunity to chat with the nice college drop-out stocking those lovely containers of chocolate-covered pretzels. ("Why yes, they ARE delicious, aren't they? And have you seen the new blueberry Greek-style yogurt, it is simply to die for.")

And there is no reason to abandon this genteel pace just because you have gotten off the bike. Why rush to work when there are iced-coffees to enjoy as you while away the time on a park bench a block away from your desk? (Did you notice that that fellow screaming into his cell-phone is also sporting a pocket square? Who DOES that anymore?) Why tap your life away at a computer at 5:45 p.m. when there are so many patios and so many mojitos to try?

Take a cue from Congress, which has had more than 200 years to figure out how to reinterpret "work" in this climate: start off slow on Mondays, leave early on Fridays, and take the entire month of August off. (Plus good parts of January, March, April, June, July, November and everything after the first week of December, unless it's an election year in which case you are out from August until you know whether or not you still have a job.)

Slow down. Sit a spell and have a chat. Watch all the characters go by. You look hot, Darlin', do you take your tea sweetened?

I might just learn to like living in Virginia after all.

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