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© 2011 Samuel Michael Bell, all rights reserved

It’s been a week since my last post, and I apologize for the delay in posting something new. It’s been a very hectic and discombobu-lating 7 days.

Right after my last post, we traveled from balmy and sunny South Carolina to cold and drizzly Washington, D.C., to visit friends and ready my apartment there for a tenant. Being face-to-face with my good friends after such a long separation was like a homecoming for me. These little visits (my second one to Washington since leaving last August) remind me of how much I miss that city and the life I built there: my apartment, my church, my circle of friends … but being there this time with Michel also reminded me that my home is wherever I’m with him, whether that’s in Washington, in South Carolina, or in La Courneuve.

On our way back to South Carolina for the final week of our American sojourn, we received the sad news of a death in the family back in France. I called my mother who was awaiting our return from Washington, and then I called US Airways from the side of Interstate 95 to change our travel plans: we would be going back to France on Wednesday instead of Saturday, so Michel could be with his family and I could be at his side. It was a long, emotional drive back to Bishopville.

The next day was my mother’s 66th birthday, and we celebrated the best we could under the circumstances. We gave her her gift (a hand-crafted mobile of  white wooden doves perched on tiny brown twigs), we prepared our bags for the next day’s departure, and we ate a home-cooked meal of cornbread, hoppin’ john, okra, and fried green tomatoes.

Being at home in South Carolina with my parents has always been restorative for me—my soul is nourished by the calm, natural beauty that envelopes me there as much as by the love and care that my mother so tirelessly gives, whether it’s listening to me talk about my joys and my concerns, doing my laundry before a return flight, or cooking up a grand Southern feast … even on her own birthday. And so, it was hard to say goodbye yesterday at the airport in Charlotte, even more so because our time together had been cut short. But, as my mother often reminds me, I was not leaving my family. I was going to them. I am always with my family, even when I’m in France: it’s just that my family is that much bigger now that Michel has come into my life.

© 2011 Samuel Michael Bell, all rights reserved

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