Under the Allegheny Sun

Things I learned on my trip home:

People in western Pennsylvania only listen to country. I know this because the only radio stations I could find were country. There were varieties, but only varieties of country: old, new and instrumental (although the only instrument seemed to be the banjo).

This was actually the first time in my life I was happy to hear songs people played when they slit their wrists, which seemed to dominate the airwaves in and around Pittsburgh. It was a welcomed relief.

Also, I never realized what a disappointing song “Strawberry Wine” is until I experienced on a desolate highway in PA. That poor, poor girl.

– Someone should invent catheters for people to use in cars. I know you‘re asking why this is better than wearing an adult diaper. Easy: chafing. I’m not saying I’ve sat for an extended period of time in urine-soaked garments since I became an adult and therefore know from experience (I’m also not denying it), but it’s reasonable to assume chafing would occur if salty bodily fluids remained pressed against the inside of one’s thigh for more than 43 minutes.

That’s why I’m suggesting catheters. Hook these things into someone’s bladder, feed the attached tube through a hole in the floorboards and there’s suddenly no reason for pit stops other than to fuel up the car and to go poop, which is rarely necessary when one is seated.

– Nothing is wrong with me. Socially, anyway. This has seriously been a concern since I moved to South Carolina. I have one friend here, other than my family, but don’t care – and this has led me to wonder if I am something similar to a sociopath or maybe, just maybe, an actual sociopath.

I learned on my return to New York that I am not a sociopath or something similar. I so instinctively sprang to life that I didn’t even notice my lifelong love for human interaction had returned. It was as though I’d awakened from a deep slumber and could, once again, be myself.

– As time passes, the beauty of the place grows. I see more beauty each time I go home. It may be in the hills that backdrop everything. Could be the trees I never noticed were so tall and broad until I moved away. Possibly it’s a person with whom I was fortunate enough to cross paths during my visit.

These entities are part of the place – and they become more beautiful the longer I gaze at my thoughts of them. It may be the wonder of what’s in those hills. Could be the admiration I have for the trees’ resilience through 100 bitter winters. Possibly it’s the unforced charm of a person who makes me comfortable with love.

These individual beauties work as one, accumulating and culminating until I can no longer resist.

 

– I should be there. Frances Mayes wrote the following in “Under the Tuscan Sun” and it‘s always in my thoughts when I go home: “I keep remembering that anytime I’ve stepped in my own footprints again, I haven’t felt renewed.” I’ve always retained these words because they have always felt appropriate.

They probably were appropriate for Mayes, who wrestles with the decision to leave California for Italy in the book, but they were never appropriate for me. Since departing for college, I’ve always felt a deep sense of renewal with each capricious stomp in my footprints. Mayes’ words depict thoughts for which I strive when I go home – I’ve always hoped to get over my affinity for the place.

Why?

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