THINGS I'LL MISS about Alabama:
The weather. You will not catch me complaining about wearing shorts in late October and mid-March. Even the summer heat hasn't been too bad. It just feels lush here, not oppressively humid. And there's a softness to the evening air that I love.
Central Time. Brit Hume at 5:00 and Jon Stewart at 10:00.
Vulcan. I love the way you can look up from so many different places and see that little dude on the skyline, watching over the city.
O'Carr's/Bella. "Eat By Color." Yummy salads, fruit plates, and other fun lunchy foods.
Plentiful, cheap parking. Twenty-five cents buys you two hours in the metered spots downtown.
Paul Finebaum. All I know of SEC football I learned from listening to this man in the car while running errands. From now on I'll follow Alabama football with at least polite interest.
Express Oil Change. You never have to leave your car!
Cute places to shop. Mountain Brook, English Village, Homewood, Pepper Place, Edgewood. I've wasted hours -- but not a cent -- in Smith's Variety. And there's always The Summit if you need your chain stores. Perhaps the best thing about the shopping here is that you don't have to elbow your way through huge crowds (although the Summit traffic at Christmas was something to behold).
Hobby Lobby. They put the Christmas decorations out in July. Sorry, AC Moore -- I've found a new love.
Zoës. Local chain with many locations and a killer egg salad sandwich.
Most of all, the people have been unfailingly delightful. I now understand Southern hospitality in a way I never did before, and I'll never forget how warm and welcoming people have been to us. I already miss the friends we've made here.
Things I won't miss: The "high-speed" internet service provided by DirecPath, Alabama drivers (turn signals, people!), and having to get on an airplane to see most of our friends and family.
It's hard to leave a place where we've been so happy. I'm an outsider, but if I'd grown up here I don't think I could be convinced to live anywhere else.
But it's time to return to Virginia, a state not without its own charms -- even if they're sometimes hard to discern in the bland, congested DC suburbs.
We drive away tomorrow morning, stop overnight in Nashville, and arrive at our house(!) Sunday night.