Today Helen and I journey to Nashville, where we will stay with my Aunt Linda and her husband John. Many of my relatives are from central Tennessee, although I grew up in Ohio.
I spent the summer in Tennessee in 1996, working as an assistant at Aunt Linda's psychology office. I haven't been back much since then. The last time was exactly three years ago, Memorial Day weekend 2002. This was a few months before we moved to Washington, and was the weekend when Chandra Levy's body was discovered in Rock Creek Park. So part of that trip involved assuring people that we would be safe living in Washington.
In the three years since that trip my sensibilities have shifted profoundly. We came down from Chicago for that vacation, and at the time I was still Midwestern Marcus. Now I'm most at home in the Northeast, a part of the country that many Americans wouldn't mind seeing drift into the Atlantic Ocean. So I will be very aware of regional differences on this trip, just as I was in San Antonio last week.