Stranger in a Strange Land by Lauren Clark
One of the funniest experiences I can remember about that first month was running to grab lunch for my news director. I was headed to Subway, and my boss requested a chicken sandwich with “baked glaze.” I paused, as I had never heard of “baked glaze,” so I repeated it back to be certain. A bit annoyed at this point, he huffed his confirmation and sent me on my way. Ten minutes later, standing in line at Subway, I realized that he was asking for “Baked Lays” potato chips. Sigh. I did return with the Baked Lays, by the way.
Since that time, I’ve embraced all that is the Deep South. I've been to "meat and threes," a restaurant that serves an "entree of the day" like pork or beef, then adds 3 vegetables. I understand that when someone says "mash the button" they mean "press it." If a person says he wants to "carry you" to the store, it means "drive you there in a car." I no longer wonder why, on country road, would a stranger behind the wheel of a pick-up wave as you pass going the other direction. My second son was born in Alabama. Every bit the Southern boy, he spouts phrases like “I’m fixin’ to go to my friend’s house,” or “Where y’all going?” and talks about quail hunting and biscuits for breakfast.
Living in the Deep South is not perfect. It is 100 degrees in the shade mid-August, I have found lizards in the laundry (once or twice), and if you're not careful where you step, you might land on a bed of fire ants. They bite and your feet get yucky, puffy welts! I do miss snow at Christmas and the cool breezes on a summer evening. I miss my family. I miss the change of seasons and the brilliant autumn leaves.
But nothing can replace the Spanish moss hanging from the Live Oak Trees or the sound of children playing on the sidewalk outside our 100-year old home. Nothing can replace a neighbor offering to sit with you on your front porch when you’ve had a bad day. Nothing can replace the smell of honeysuckle on the vine in the spring.
For a while, I was a stranger in a strange land. But embracing change and cultural differences is something I truly believe in. My life is richer and fuller because of it. The South is home now and I love it!
With a stern warning, and unemployment looming, she's offered one last chance to rescue her career. Julia embarks on an unlikely journey to the ‘Heart of Dixie’—Eufaula, Alabama—home to magnificent mansions, sweet tea, and the annual Pilgrimage.
Julia arrives, soon charmed by the lovely city and her handsome host, but her stay is marred by a shocking discovery. Can Julia's story save her career, Eufaula, and the annual Pilgrimage?
Okay, it is a tad lonely, from time to time.
And quite exhausting.
Which is precisely why I have to get organized.
I sink into my chair and try to concentrate. What to tackle first? Think, think.
Third reminder. Uh-oh.
Marietta rolls her eyes and jerks a thumb toward the inevitable. “Guess you better walk the plank,” she teases. “New guy’s waiting. Haven’t met him yet, but I’ve heard he’s the ‘take no prisoners’ sort. Hope you come back alive.”
I grope for something witty and casual to say, but all of a sudden, my head feels light and hollow.
I’ve been dying to find out about the new editor.
Every last gory detail.
“I’m still in another time zone,” I offer up to Marietta with a weak smile. My insides toss from side to side as I slide out of my chair.
Marietta tosses me a wry look. “Nice try. Get going already, sport.”
I tilt my head toward the hallway and pretend to pout. When I look back, Marietta’s already disappeared. Smart girl.
“Fine, fine.” I tug a piece of rebellious auburn hair into place, smooth my wool suit, and begin to march toward the inevitable.