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Coming Home

This article first appeared in issue 33, and was written by Christopher Rowe.

Southern literature and Southern life alike are full of people who go away. And of people who don't. The South Carolina writer Andy Duncan calls these "stayers and goers." At thirty, I found myself a member of a smaller group. I'm a "comer back."

Which is not unique, of course. Many Adair Countians have gone to Cincinatti to make tires, or overseas to fight wars, or a hundred other things-only to be drawn irresistibly home by family and friends, culture and faith, those ways and means of everyday life. In my experience most of those come home at the end of a career, back to write the epilogue of a long life.

I've been gone little more than a decade, a few chapters at best. But the distance from Columbia to Louisville and Lexington is measured in more than miles, and as for the years in Michigan, and DC, Seattle and Paris, well, you might say that differences abound.

Similarities, too, though. For instance...

When I left home at seventeen I was not a coffee drinker. I wasn't even shaving regularly yet, and the coffee my grandmother brews-which I greatly appreciate now-possessed more strength of character than I did. At the University of Louisville, though, I became a frequenter of coffee shops. There are some good ones in Louisville, especially Twice Told on Bardstown Road.

I could always find a good coffee shop where ever I lived. The Blue Coyote in the college town of East Lansing, Michigan; the competing chains and independents in our coffee capital, Seattle; the numerous partisan venues in our political capital, Washington. In Paris, I found great coffee in dozens of cafes, from the comfortable brasseries of my own working class neighborhood to the glitzy bistros of the Boulevard Saint-Germaine. As I said, I've become a frequenter of coffee shops.

So I was surprised and delighted, on moving back, to find Debra Shaw in her purple storefront on the Columbia Square. Sirius Coffee is easily the equal to any coffee shop I've ever seen. And it's not just the coffee, good as it is. She's uncovered the best interior commercial space in town and turned it into a perfect spot for conversation, music, and food; the atmosphere of the biggest cities, but with a level of service and friendliness I've only ever found here.

It's just one of the many reasons I'm glad I came home.

This story was posted on 2001-02-15 12:01:01
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