Greetings! Laura, here.
If you don’t know, Dudley’s college time at Skidmore College in Saratoga Springs, NY was a pivotal time for him: fun, eye-opening, world-widening, friend-making. It’s a place that, years later, just make him smile when he walks on campus. It is home. Life has moved on, but that time period is memorable and has helped make him who he is.
North Carolina is like that for me. It is my Skidmore. I spent a year in NC and a year in GA in my late 20s. I was immersed in a life that was radically different–geographically, politically, religiously, food-wise, language-wise–than my CA upbringing. I stopped reading fiction for that year because the people I met and the things I experienced couldn’t be bested by the best creative writers.
I met and was adopted by people who remain in my life today and who I have been fortunate to visit on this trip. They are as gracious and welcoming and hilarious now as they were 20 years ago when a young woman with a one-way ticket from CA showed up knowing no one and nothing.
So Dudley and I had breakfast in the Banner Elk Cafe and the waitresses still call everyone “Hon” and use “y’all” ubiquitously, and I called Bob and Marty, who spirited me into their family all those years ago but who I hadn’t spoken with in 20 years, and who welcomed me back with a, “Can you come over now?” and left me with a “We are so privileged to see you again.” And before the Partridge van came to a complete stop in a manicured Charlotte subdivision driveway, I jumped out and Deb leapt up from the porch and even though we hadn’t seen each other in 10 years, it didn’t matter, and Anna-Louise, Deb’s mom, came over with a passel of home-baked cookies for our trip and a picture frame. She said, “Let’s take a picture with you, me and Deborah. Then you can put it in the frame so you won’t forget your time in the South.” As if I could ever forget.