As made famous by the line in “The Wizard of Oz,” he says: There is no place like home. Home is where you feel comfortable. It’s where you know your surroundings. It’s where you get to know the people who make up the community. It’s also where you lay your head every night in the comforts of your bed and in my case, surrounded by my pets. I am fortunate to have three places in my heart that I call home.
I may not live there anymore, but Liberty County still feels right at home. I had the pleasure of making two recent trips to Liberty County, and on both occasions, I felt as if I had never left. People I hadn’t seen in nearly two years welcomed me back, and conversations picked up where we left off long ago. I attended the annual Oyster Roast and Low Country Boil Roasting Party of the Liberty County Chamber of Commerce and networked with many friends and colleagues.
I caught up with my longtime friend and mentor, Louis Levine. I had the opportunity to say hello to a lot of people I haven’t seen in a long time and talk about great food, music, our hobbies and our lives. It was a pleasure to attend the district committee meeting in person. Same goes for the Heinsville City Council meeting. It was great to walk around Gap Park this past Saturday and talk to Michelle Ricketson, Ro Krueger, and many others at the county-wide yard and Homegrown, Homemade Market. I ate at my favorite places and talked to co-workers Addie Carpenter and Daniel Holden as if I worked every day from the Hainesville office.
I have finished my work and visited my favorite places and I sincerely look forward to my next trip as I hope to catch up on many others I missed on this last trip. And on a Saturday afternoon, I stopped over to my house in Chattanooga. I was greeted (I read plowed), by my three dogs as I tried to enter through the door. My cat sounded annoyed as usual while the parrots chirped in her cage and the rabbits gave me that, “Where are my carrots?” research. Mom was happy to see me and made homemade chicken soup. I slept that night, wrapped in my favorite blanket, my fluffy pillow and the little man at my feet. Piper and Chelsea lay on their dog beds and snorted all night. The next day I walked my dogs, talked to my sister-in-law, had some beers with my brother and watched my night shows with my mom.
Most of my family still lives in Miami, which is another place I consider patriotic.
Don’t miss the terrible traffic (people who complain about traffic here in Hinesville and in Bryan County, like Jeff Whitten, don’t know squat about real traffic issues until you try to drive on the Palmetto Expressway or I-95 during rush hour traffic in Miami) , but Miami is where I’ve spent most of my life (41 years to be exact) and made so many memories with family and friends that I still cherish today.
Miami is a wonderful urban city, rich in the cultures and traditions of the Caribbean and Latin America. We have a big family and often get together for the holidays and cook huge Cuban food. It was easy and convenient to speak Spanish because the majority of people in Miami also speak it. And it was great to be bilingual because in Miami it was almost a must.
There are some subtle differences in each of my three hometowns and they have a lot to do with people. Southern hospitality, politeness, and welcoming arms are part of the true South. Miami may be in the south, but it’s not the true south.
Miami is more like a real little Latin and Caribbean island except for being inland.
There is no sweet tea in Miami, not as in Georgia and Tennessee. But there are plenty of guarabo (sugar cane juice) and a Cubano cafe. There is no “bless your heart” (said sarcastic or sincerely) in Miami. You never hear anyone say, “You,” in Miami, that word does not exist and is replaced instead with, “Oye que pasa?”
But in the end, these subtle differences in behaviors and culture are what I adore about each site. In the end, home is where you made and continue to make your memories, and where your heart feels welcome and warm.
I hope you find your way home, wherever it is, this Thanksgiving week.
Patti Lyon is the editor-in-chief of The Courier newspaper.