When we left the South last year, I didn’t imagine being back a year later. Of course, at that point, I wasn’t sure what our next step would be. Luke and I wanted to broaden our experiences outside the boundaries of the Mason-Dixon line and San Francisco fit the bill.
Our year in San Francisco opened up a world of firsts. We worked on a proposition campaign together, walking 13 miles a day and eating peanut butter sandwiches in parks throughout the city. I worked for a civil litigation law firm as a legal assistant, while Luke wrote fiction and later found a job at Hubpages as a content moderator. We explored the coast and I introduced Luke to the Pacific Ocean for the first time.
We also experienced the perils of rent and questions on where we wanted to go next. Neither of us wanted to stay in California forever. I still wanted to go to law school and come back to the South to work on policies to better help my state. Luke wanted to expand his writing and look at programs back east. Other days, we thought about abandoning our plans all together, disappearing, and traveling the globe. While disappearing was an attractive and less stressful option, we eventually decided we wanted to use our skills and work to make an impact on our communities. Our travels, for the time being, could wait. When it came down to the end of our apartment lease, we made the decision to follow some offers in Arkansas.
And now, as we carved out the last half of our trip, I began to see signs of the familiar South I want to help. In Santa Fe, we poked around, seeing intricate churches and collections of dilapidated doors. The Priuses began to dwindle and the pickup trucks increased tenfold. I saw unfavorable markers I wanted to change (a billboard of Hitler/Obama) and fond markers I loved to embrace (seersucker, be still my heart) as we moved further east. Once we hit Groom, Texas and I saw a multistory white cross rise on the horizon, I knew we crossed the rubicon. For all the good, the bad, and everything in between that comes from the South, we were back.
As we pulled in my parents driveway and my dad drew Luke into a hug, I couldn’t help but smile as I realized, for now, in this humid and multifaceted landscape, we were home.