Let's go back to the picture at the top, which will serve as my visually-aided analogy.
Tiny bowl = Jersey (i.e. cramped, people up in your space, no where to move.)
Large bowl = NC (i.e. spacious, fabulously decorated, breathing room, places to swim.)
Now, I will never ever ever deny that I come from the tiny bowl. It is where I learned to be an independent person, a free thinker, and challenge everything presented to me. It's made me me. But really, would you go back to the little bowl after experiencing the large one? I didn't think so.
For years I have considered myself a northerner in the south, a beacon of Jerseyness in a sea of Carolinians, a Yankee in a Confederate Court if you will. However, I've realized over the last few days that this may have been true when I moved but alas, I now belong to (and in) the south. I have lived in the south for almost 8 years now [WOW...I didn't realize it had been that long!], and when I am there you can definitely see elements of my personality and dialect that are distinctly northern. But, now that I am back in the north, I recognize that I don't belong here. I can't stand people everywhere, the hustle, the angry impatient attitude, it's just...yucky. I miss my quiet neighborhood, my spacious yard, people who wave (and not the single finger wave you get here for letting someone in in traffic), holding doors open, etc.
At first I thought maybe I'm just in a negative head space because I miss my puppy who is staying with my neighbors, or maybe it's because I miss my gay posse since I have no friends around here anymore, or maybe it's because I miss CLF and can't wait to see her when I get back, or maybe it's because both of my parents have to work until Christmas Eve and I've only been able to see them at night before they go to bed, or maybe it's because of all of these things wrapped up together. But the reality is that I know I belong in the big fish bowl with my own hula-hoop of fabulously decorated space and can not be content to live in the little bowl again. Jersey will always have a special place in my heart, but is not my home...that's the south for this former Jersey girl.
LATE EDIT INSERT: As I've re-read and edited the above paragraph several times, I can't shake this feeling that it's going to read really negative...it's not intended to be that way at all. I'm genuinely happy to be visiting my family and it's a strange revelation to realize you don't belong in this place anymore. But it's also a great feeling to know that you have a lot waiting on you when you return to your home. So yeah, I think that's what I've been trying to awkwardly write...I'm out of place here and socially awkward and lucky and blessed and humbled and anticipatory and it being all jumbled together is more than okay with me.
So, in conclusion...my gift to myself and my readers is this: it's okay not to belong where you are, it just means there is more out there for you to discover. I mean, isn't that what this whole journey called life is about? Finding your place and your role in a very mixed up world? Search for it, find it, make it fabulous [I mean most of my readers are big homos...so yeah, fabulous is about right for an adjective here], and laugh a lot along the way...life is too short to live it mediocrely.
Merry Christmas, Happy Hanukkah, Happy Kwanzaa, Happy Winter Solstice, and any anything else I forgot that you may celebrate y'all!