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Sunday, September 16, 2007

Cracker barrel of tears

Do you ever find yourself looking for the familiar? Last week I was a little homesick. This feeling was likely increased by the nervousness I was feeling about my impending trip to Miami.

Miami's always been a larger than life location, like Hollywood or New York City. I was going there for work. I'm new to this public p.r. position, so I was worried that I wouldn't live up to the expectations of the headquarters people that would be there.

I was worried that I wouldn't fit in with the beautiful people I was sure lived there. The two co-workers whom I had met from the Miami office did nothing to dispel that myth. They are both gorgeous Latinas with flowing hair, perfect bodies and runway-suitable clothing. I was worried that my Spanish wasn't going to cut the mustard (or plaintain) with the folks from Univision and the other media. I was nervous.

So on the way to Miami, I had hubby stop off for dinner -- at Cracker Barrel. This place is the same where ever you are. From the wooden rocking chairs to the corny shirts in the store, we could have been in Oklahoma. I order a sampler that provided me a variety of country fare to taste.

When I bit into the chicken and noodles that reminded me of the ones my mother-in-law used to make, the tears started. My husband didn't know what was wrong. I couldn't explain. I cried because my mother-in-law's memory has long softened. She can no longer cook the delicious meals that I wouldn't even attempt to cook. I cried because the old Gene Autry song playing in the restaurant made me long for the days when we had to run to keep up with my dad. I cried because the fried chicken reminded me of Sunday dinners, cooked by my mother for our big family.

I cried because I'm missing "Big 12" country.

Yes, I like Florida. Yes, I like my job. And, on any given day the beach and view of the water still take my breath away. But I was nervous and scared, and sometimes, the familiar is a good place to hide.

I wiped away the tears and laughed at my silliness -- crying at Cracker Barrel -- and we headed down the road.

I popped in a Dixie Chicks c.d. and sang loudly as we came into the city, which is as wonderful as I expected. The familiar for this Texas gal worked.

I survived. My Spanish was not near as bad as I thought. My clothes were fine. The bosses were thrilled with our work and the D.C. delegate sent me some flowers and a great note the day after.

Maybe the tears helped after all. I think I'll make it a habit to have dinner at Cracker Barrel every once in a while.

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