Thursday, June 19, 2008

Guest Blogger

Things I Miss
By Suzanne Supplee
Author of Artichoke’s Heart and
When Irish Guys Are Smiling

I left Columbia, Tenneessee, the charming Southern town where I grew up, a long time ago. I was 25 at the time, about to be married to my first husband. Obviously, since I refer to him as my “first” husband, things didn’t go as planned. At any rate, I was optimistic, at least for a while, and I eagerly settled myself in another town called Columbia. This Columbia was in Maryland, however, and it was a smart, convenient, planned community, filled with terrific grocery stores, state-of-the-art gyms, and progressive school systems. It had everything I needed, but it wasn’t home. For a very long time, I was homesick, pathologically so.

There were the obvious things I missed: the house I grew up in, the courthouse clock chiming on the quarter hour, old friends, my mama. But there were other things, too, subtle things I found difficult to explain.

I missed saying things like Bless his heart or I’m doing good or We’re fixing to go to the store.

I missed celebrating Thanksgiving, Christmas, my birthday, and Easter twice in one day, with both sets of grandparents.

I missed the common understanding that in all of us, country clubber, golfer, pipe fitter, or mechanic, there is a big ol’ redneck.

I missed being around people who teared up when they heard The Tennessee Waltz or Rocky Top.

I missed hearing The Tennessee Waltz and Rocky Top.

I missed the Piggly Wiggly and Sundrops.

I missed listening to long-winded stories in the grocery store or at the beauty shop or the doctor’s office or the post office or the funeral home.

I missed the spirit of adventure that often came with eating—frog legs, rabbit, squirrel, potato salad at a picnic in July.

I missed my granddaddy’s concoction of buttermilk and cornbread, served in a drinking glass, and eaten with a spoon.

I missed my high school best friend’s Trans Am.

I missed the person I had always been, the girl I was so willing to leave behind.

This story does have a happy ending, though. I’m a big believer in happy endings, and the great thing about being a writer is that you get to decide how things end. Or, at least you can put a spin on the endings. So here’s my spin/ending: Over the years, I’ve learned to love Maryland crabs, Old Bay, the Bay, Charm City, and the efficiency of not having a shared history with every person you meet in the grocery store. I’ve learned that being far away from the people and places you love offers an opportunity for greater appreciation and much needed insight. I’ve learned that wherever you go, there you are. And, finally, I’ve learned that writing about a place is the next best thing to being there.

Suzanne Supplee is the author of When Irish Guys Are Smiling, a Students Across the Seven Seas series book, and Artichoke�s Heart. Currently, Suzanne is working on her third book, untitled as of yet, but due out in the spring of 2010.

Suzanne is a graduate of Southern Illinois University, and she earned a masters degree in creative writing from Towson University in Maryland. For a number of years, she has worked as both a teacher and a writer.

Suzanne is married and has three daughters. Her favorite hobbies include exercise, reading, and, of course, writing

Visit Suzanne on the web at

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