It’s not like anywhere else on earth. But I guess everyone says that about home. It’s not exactly a slice of heaven, and sometimes—ten months outta the year that is—it’s ten times hotter’n hell. But, when you smile at someone, chances are they’ll smile back. There may not be a barstool waiting for you in a place where everybody knows your name, but they’ll all act like they’ve known you forever soon’s you walk in. If you drive for half’n hour, you’ll see a cow or twenty. But a burger from a radioactive orange and white steepled drive through is better’n any filet mignon.
There’s something about the heat there, too—it’s a season more intense than what it’s called. It’s more than “summer.” It’s baking concrete and the salty tang of sweat. It’s ice-cold beer sweating on a picnic table and the kiss of iced tea on sun-pinked lips. It’s stinging fingertips and burning tongue from peelin’ crawfish all afternoon, freeing the ivory butter-soaked and spice-filled meat from flag-red shells and sucking the heads for that punch of cayenne, for the hell of it. It’s crispy golden french fries and buttermilk ranch that never saw the inside of a squeeze bottle and is thick enough to eat with a spoon.
It’s raindrops big as everythin’ else here—quarter sized drops that run down bare shoulders and sizzle on the blazing ground. It’s the windows down with the wind blowing in and the seats sticking to your legs and no speed limit sign in sight. It’s sunsets with colors they haven’t invented names for yet; names no one would understand if they hadn’t seen it. It’s that bruised purple-blue of a blue-bonnet, the searing line of red-orange like a welder’s torch. It’s roads you could drive with your eyes closed because there’s somethin’ inside that would pull you right back home. It’s the siren-call of a steel guitar and the deafening thrum of cicadas. It’s heat-lightning storms with that dance in a blue-black sky.
It’s knowing you could drive for hours and still be inside the lines.
It’s knowing just how long it takes to leave. And that you never really do.