I am from thick salt fog in Charleston air, from orange and purple and garnet and black, from Duck Duck Goose on the State House lawn and nicks in the blue granite from Sherman’s fire.

I’m from accents so thick you could cut them from a knife, from yellow jessamine and palmettos — not palms. I’m from textile factories that eventually, jauntily became apartments and museums.

I’m from the cut-shell slices in your feet if you make the mistake of stepping into a marsh. I’m from secret shrimp burger recipes and Gullah and the smell of the Low Country.

And then I found mountains and rivers and streams and creeks. I found the silence of a nighttime snow.

I found a public university system you wouldn’t believe, bell towers against blue sky and graveyards full of Tar Heels dead. I found the hulls and shells of furniture manufacturing, too sad and too soon to be renovated.

I found the long, slow stretch of Piedmont vowels and pieces of names so beautiful they broke my heart, Ashe and Cajah and Banner and Raleigh.

The politics are better to the south. The newspapers are better in the north. I’m still divided on the barbecue.

And it’s all so deep and some of it so sweet, I can’t believe I got to have both.

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