A Long Way from Starbucks

Littleville, Alabama, doesn’t have a Starbucks. In fact, from the time I leave my apartment, conveniently located behind my local Starbucks, until I arrive at my parents’ house, I don’t even pass one. That’s 250 miles with no Starbucks. That must be the longest stretch in the country without one.

That got me thinking. It’s a long way from Starbucks in more ways than one. My daddy told me once–and I agreed with him–that it took me a few days of being home to get back to my old self. I started thinking about what my old self vs. my new self must look like. He meant it takes me that long to relax, to let go of “city life” and the stresses it brings. I think it is something different.

I think it takes me a few days to become accustomed to people again. I don’t often appear that way to causual observers and acquaintances, but I am a solitary person. I myself didn’t even know I am an introvert for a long time. I was grown when I found out. It’s quite a shock to go around for 30 years thinking you are an extrovert only to take some inventory and find out otherwise.

I like living alone, just me and Duncan. And he’s a quiet little guy. I don’t prefer to be alone, but I am mostly really content when I’m by myself. Starbucks living suits me fine. There I can be with people and still be alone. In fact, that may very well be the secret of Starbucks: bustling solitude. It’s comforting and makes me happy. There’s a verse in the Bible that begins: “be still and know…” I like that, being still. So, even though I live in the Metro Atlanta area and am a professor and travel all over giving presentations or seeing this or that attraction, I can get in balance in my daily life. But, there aren’t any family members in it.

That is what it takes me a few days to remember in Littleville. People are sometimes messy and noisy. People require tact and patience and compromise. People will ask you questions. And note, when you are by yourself a great deal of the time, it’s amazing how you get used to not answering questions. It’s a little thing, but think about it. I also have to get used to being in another place, to sleeping in another bed. This is an odd adjustment because for so many years, this house in Littleville was home to me. It was home when my heart needed a home.

To end, what I am not saying is that I become aware that I need people and to reconnect and feel love. “People who need people are the luckiest people in the world.” I know already that I do and that I will and that I feel it. It is the awareness, the adjusting of my self. The sharing of my self with other people, with family, that I learn to do again after a day or two in Littleville. That, and accepting the sharing of others. I can note that now without nostalgia or homesickness. I’ll try to nudge the process along a little. There’s nothing to lose.

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