It happened again the other day when I was showing our house in St. Simons Island, Ga. A perfectly polite and presentable couple stopped the conversation dead and exhibited very bad form. "You're being transferred to Buffalo? Oh, how horrible."
"No," I corrected her. "We're moving to Buffalo. It's our choice. I've been waiting about 25 years to do it."
"Well at least your children are grown," the woman said, somehow feeling better that everyone will not have to serve my sentence.
I wanted to bean her with my copy of "Big Russ and Me," and tell her that Buffalo is a great place to raise children. And how good it will be to live among family again. And what a friendly town it is. And how wonderful it is to be that close to Canada. And how many excellent colleges there are there.
But her mind was made up, and since there was an outside chance she might buy the place, I waited until she turned her back to stick my tongue out.
What is it about my hometown that evokes this response from people who have never been near the place? Can we blame it all on the Weather Channel?
When I tell folks that the brain trust that is Homeland Security obliterated my husband's job at the Federal Law Enforcement Training Center here, they pat my shoulder and say, "that's such a shock."
When I say I want to move to Buffalo, they petition for protective custody. "Maybe you should take some time to think this over," seems to be today's euphemism for "you are completely out of your mind."
My niece, Kaitlyn, was born a few weeks after my husband and I started dating. She's going to be 9 in February. Her sister Lauren turned 13 in August. I don't want to miss anymore of the good stuff. I love my Buffalo Bills and beef on weck. I love the arts and music scene. I love my cousins and marvel at how close we've stayed with the distance between us.
After all these years of insidious, no-see-um swarming gnats that leave hot, red mounds the size of a quarter on all exposed flesh, I welcome the chance to swat at a good-old Buffalo mosquito that at least levels the playing field with visibility and a buzz.
I can't wait to cover up as much flesh as possible during temperate days and cool nights. Some bodies were made for the loin cloth fashions of tropical nights. I was built for hoodies.
No more will I have to say "hot" when I order a cup of tea in a restaurant or explain the concept of horseradish when I order beef. I can't wait to be where football is played by grown men on Sundays and not by boys with three first names on Friday nights and Saturday afternoons.
I treasure the idea of going weeks, months, likely even years without hearing the phrase, "You ain't from here, are you?"
So my husband will only be able to play golf six months of the year instead of 12. Other men have made such sacrifices and gone on to live full and happy lives. He'll have a year-round poker game, and that counts for something.
So it's a little cold. I can't wait to get back to a blue state. Yes, our winter heating bills will be nearly as high as our summer air conditioning bills are here.
Some like it hot. I don't.
I like it in Buffalo.
JUDI GRIGGS looks forward to proving Thomas Wolfe wrong.