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August 3, 2010

My Year Off Comes To A Close

A few weeks ago, I received email from Steve Tannen asking if I'd like to open for the Weepies when they come through Atlanta in November. As most of you have noticed, I took the last year off from music to be a Real Housewife of Atlanta. Not the Bravo kind with big hair, a mammoth checking account, McMansioned, Mercedes driving, shopping obsessed (ok, maybe I am little more big haired than I care to admit, but, damn it, there's humidity down here). More along the lines of the goes to Kroger, walks the dog, makes dinner, vacuums, sorts recycling, does laundry, drops off dry cleaning, walks with southern mommies, grows asian long beans and watermelons, and spends nights writing about it kind of housewife. It’s been a great job and the benefits have been divine.

I said all along that I would give it a year and keep track of the experience to see if, ultimately, there was anything creative that could come out of it. Honestly, the transition from small, high altitude mountain town to car bound Atlanta hasn't been easy. The heat alone is something to reckon with, but there is also a crush of motion that greets me when I open my front door. I was unprepared for the sounds alone. We have a freight train, a commuter train, a police station, a fire house, and a correctional facility helicopter pad all within a mile of our home (not to mention we're we're located directly below the rainy day flight path of Atlanta's notoriously busy airport). I am no stranger to suburbia, as Long Island is the mother of all strip mall, concrete, chainlink, front lawn growing, subdivisions, but after twenty-nine some odd years of living fairly rurally, this has been a shock to the senses.

What continues to surprise me most about the South is just how warm, gracious, and friendly Southerns are. I have never before lived in a place where people so easily smile and say hello, hold the door for you, ask you how you are, bring you food when you’re ill, lend a hand to do whatever unpleasant job needs to get done. Even on the most difficult days of this transition, if I left the house, I was sure to have at least one conversation with a stranger. It’s hard to remain grief stricken when an older woman smiles at you and tells you how pretty your hair is as you walk past her in the grocery store cereal aisle (even if I was clad in understated pajamas at the time) or when the pharmacist, noting you’re new to the area, asks if you’ve yet visited his favorite BBQ joint and then gives you the owner’s name and insists he’ll make for you this one slow simmered sandwich that isn’t on the menu but will leave you sweating from happiness. I have the most incredible neighbors imaginable, kind and inclusive, who display a hospitality that puts me to shame and who make it nearly impossible to be lonely. For the first time in my life, I live in a culture of true diversity, the kind to which a liberal town like Boulder pays a deal of great lip service, but never actually experiences.

While we’re down here, I will wring out every single new, odd, and unexpected experience from this Southern Experiment all while sporting impossibly huge hair and high cholesterol. I’m already learning the joys of cooking with Crisco and Velveeta. Who knows what will come next?

It’s fitting that Steve would get in touch just after our one year Georgia anniversary passed and my year off came to a close. I have loved Deb and Steve since the moment I met them in Boston eleven years ago and their music is the most beautiful, comforting sound I have ever heard. I am over the moon to be on their bill and incredibly greatful for the opportunity. What a way to step out of my housewife shoes!

Posted by bethamsel at 4:37 PM