Down Under

I come from a land down under

Where beer does flow and men chunder

Can’t you hear, can’t you hear the thunder

You better run, you better take cover.

– Men at Work

Punta Cana,

You are beautiful. Your turquoise waters and white sandy beaches are picture perfect. Your people are gracious and polite. The warmth of your surf and the breeze from your tropical winds soothes parts of my soul no North American beach could ever touch. And your rum… oh your rum is so very sweet.

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But you are muggy and hot.

I miss my America.

I miss my South, my biscuits, my “y’all”-s, and my light beer.

I miss home.

I miss my puppy, my pillows, my air-conditioner, and my Pancho Villa.

I miss English.

I miss red lights, and milk-chocolate, and accidentally sipping running water in the shower, and passing cows with meat on their bones.

I miss my America.

Oh, Punta Cana you are lovely. You make great pictures, and fun memories, and a nice vacation. Your resorts are elegant, and your pools are decadent, and your Michael Jackson impersonator is spot-on. You allowed me to indulge myself – eating spaghetti twice a day!

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But your brownies taste odd and your cheesecake is a bit off.

I miss my America.

I miss turkey sandwiches, and cable, and homemade french fries, and alarm clocks that keep time.

I miss home.

I miss talking to Momma every day, and the drive home from Big Blue Box, and bright green grass.

I miss English.

I miss listening to the radio, and T.J. Maxx, and reality television, and Arby’s.

I miss my America.

Punta Cana, you were good to us. You showed us things we could see only in your country. We swam in your cave, drank chocolate from your land, smoked cigars rolled by your people, and we purchased trinkets from your citizens.

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But it is time for us to head home.

Home to our red, white, and blue. Our land of the brave and home of the free… our one nation under the only G-O-D… our little indivisible united 50. It is time for us to step foot on our wet grass and red clay. Time for us to suck in the mountain air and the cool water of the foothills.

It is time for us to say goodbye.

Goodbye Punta Cana. Adios to your plant-covered umbrellas, ice-filled drinks, and palm tree-dotted shores. Ciao featherless pillows, gravy-less breakfasts, and name-your-price shopping. Farewell to our week in paradise, adieu.

Hasta la vista, baby.

Miss Clariss

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Mr. Big, his family, and I have been home since Friday. It was so nice to step out of that airport and into the clean evening Carolina air (… even if we did get on the wrong parking lot shuttle and had to turn back around and do it all over again). I was so happy to be back in my own home, in my own bed, and sleeping with all five of my own pillows. My arms curled right around my Pooh bear and I fell fast asleep – the best sleep I had had in days. I was at ease again. My heart was home.

It was odd – this vacation. I never get homesick. When I go on big vacations like this one, I anticipate not eating well (because I am such a picky eater) or sleeping that great (because I am such a pillow snob). I prepare myself for a week without the things I am used to having. And usually, my excitement camouflages any thoughts of home. So why was it different this time? Why did I miss home so badly, even though I was in paradise?

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I couldn’t figure it out.

And then today, Wes (Blog Creator Extraordinaire) and I were getting lunch at Arby’s. I ordered my usual (a beef ‘n cheddar on a regular bun with potato cakes), and then said, “May I please have a chocolate turnover too?” Wes laughed and said, “Really, a turnover?” “Yeah, a turnover,” I retorted, “Hey, God bless America, man.” He laughed at me and shook his head.

Then it happened.

The lady behind the counter looked at me, smiled and said, “I needed to hear that.”

That’s what I had missed. That connection. Some sort of connection, or camaraderie, or a sense of togetherness that I felt detached from. I missed interacting with people who could understand me, my words, my gestures well enough for them to remember me or vice versa.

I came away from Punta Cana with two things: 1. I must learn a different language. I must learn to connect with others who are from other walks of life, other countries, and other parts of the world. and 2. I am not ashamed to use the phrase “God bless America” as an excuse for eating chocolate turnovers, bacon cheeseburgers, or a whole bag of freshly cut and fried french fries.

Oh, and hey, just one more thing… praise tha Lawd for that sweet iced tea, honey!

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