I came as a visitor, a transplant, to the Deep South from a thirsty shore. The humidity met me, clung to my skin in welcome and want. The cars were so clean and the vegetation so green. Palmettos and old oaks, gray Spanish moss and knobby-kneed cyprus trees, and stretches of kudzu that had eaten whole houses.
The variant greens fascinated me. In Rota it seemed that everything belonged in sun-bleached shades, the olive groves and almond trees, the pines that shot up from dusty earth. But in South Carolina the plants were neon, the color deep, as if a cut leaf could be used as a marker, as if their pigment might transfer easily to paper.
Homesickness, a stomachache or the sudden pressure of tears, haunted me. Home was across the Atlantic, my eyes hungry for bamboo and cactus, eagerly searching for glossy black pincher beetles and geckos. Here there were alligators and black water, mounds of azaleas and Civil War reenactors. It was too wet, too humid, too hot.
But the colors, the vibrancy lured me.
"Hello," the kudzu seemed to say, "you didn't know it but you belong here too."