The word hometown instantly sends me into a quandary. You see, my heart is divided between two places. In the South when we refer to our "home" it means the city in which we are raised. And I was raised in Memphis, Tennessee. Not one to venture too terribly far away from home (my only exception is a short three-year stint as an innkeeper in Vermont - thus the inspiration for the book), now I live three hours from Memphis in Franklin, Tennessee. I have raised my children in Franklin so technically that's my new home.
What to do? Where to live? That question has been tangled up in my mind now for the last fourteen years. Both places have their strong-points. Franklin is a picturesque, quintessential little Southern town in Middle-Tennessee with a statue of a Confederate soldier on our town square greeting our town's visitors. Franklin holds the distinction as hosting the bloodiest battle ever fought on Southern soil, The Battle of Franklin, and while that's not so wonderful, the history here certainly draws wonderful tourist dollars to our adorable little town.
It's safe, it's clean, and the people are as warm as the climate. There are hundreds of antebellum homes still standing and if you're a lake person you're in luck. We've got plenty of those nearby and most of the kids learn to wake board and ski at a young age.
Now Memphis, the other side of my heart, is wonderful, too. You'll never find a prettier sunset no matter how hard you try. "Reds, pinks, oranges, and yellows streak the sky and you can watch the entire fireball melt into the cotton fields of Arkansas right across the Mississippi." That's a quote from Whistlin' Dixie in a Nor'easter. The book is set in Memphis for the simple reason that my heart never left. Even though I've been gone for the past 17 years, I still cry every single time I leave. My girlfriends who live here are more like my sisters and it kills me to leave them behind.
If you like bar-be-que (and that's not a verb) it's the best in the world. And to prove it we have the annual Memphis In May International Bar-be-que Cooking Contest every year held downtown on the banks of the Mississippi during May. That's our annual month-long festival to celebrate our prettiest month of the year.
I'm hoping (well actually at this point I'm still dreaming) that one day I'll be able to live in both cities, become a famous full-time writer and own a house in each. But for now, I'm happy to live solely in Franklin. After all, it's where my boys call home and my friends in Franklin mean as much to me as my friends in Memphis. Like I said, I'm in a conundrum.
By the way, tomorrow night, Thursday November 12, I'll be in the wonderful Mississippi Delta at Turnrow Books in Greenwood, Mississippi. Please tell all your Mississippi friends and cousins to drop by and say hi anytime between 5:30 to 7:00. Until next week, have a great week y'all!