With an almost seven year history we weren't part of, Ellie's personality was created by people we'd never know. Quite frankly, she's nuts. From the moment the sun comes up, she's screeching at bunnies. Barking frantically at any light that refuses to be stationary. And is compelled to jump not only on you, but on your chest. In your face. With a determination that you aren't staying asleep because there's way too much going on right now that you need to know about.
Yet, when she's tired or finally goes to a quiet place, she finds her squirrel. She lays on the floor and lovingly, gently gnaws at it. Usually, when I leave the room, she follows me. She has an internal GPS that alerts her when Mommy's more than 10 feet away. But when she has her squirrel, she finds such comfort that it takes her a few minutes to realize that I'm out of her imposed "zone of safety."
Last night, my honey and I watched "The Voice." An amazing kid from Alabama sang his heart out. Typical country sound. But when they asked him questions and he spoke, I chewed on my squirrel. First, I heard him say, "Thank you" to the production intern that opened the door for him. Then, when questioned by the judges, every verb with an "i" was articulated with an "a." He said, "I thank" for "I think" and added syllables and said, "Yes, sir." I chewed on my squirrel a bit more.
I moved from Alabama when I was 20 and went away to Emory Law. It's been over two decades since then, but when I hear the sweet nectar of a Southern accent, my heart smiles.
We all have our squirrel. That thing that no matter where we are or what we're doing in our lives, it puts us in a place of comfort and safety. For me, it's the lyrical sound of a Southern drawl. Like when my friend, Matt Parks, in a Creative Team meeting says "dill" for "deal." Or "pen" for "pin." I'm home.