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As I drive down the main drag, I fiddle with the radio, but am completely unable to find a station that is not playing country music. So I navigate the familiar road while a singer warbles

I took him honky-tonking and that was it,

he took to it like a pig to mud, cow to cud.

We all got a hillbilly bone down deep inside!

I park in a parking lot which is really a large mud patch and walk into the local Irish pub which, even though school is out, contains small groups of university students nursing microbrewery ales.

The waitress smiles and asks me if I’m waiting for my friends, referring to them by name.

As I sip a diet Pepsi, conversations spill over from the nearby tables. They are the sort of conversations that you find everywhere in a small university town, where beer, liberalism, and literature are rampant in equal proportions.

“Did you know that Stephen Colbert lost, like, half his family in a plane crash?”

“No! Really?”

“Yeah, he’s had a really rough life. Apparently…”

“Have you read Angels in America?”

“No, I keep meaning to, though.”

“It’s really good. It’s actually referenced in The Laramie Project, and…”

My friend arrives and former conversations from my last visit home are picked up seamlessly, as though no time has passed.

“So some one actually thought to tell those African women that diarrhea is a “hot” disease, and they need to give their children water to cool it. That made sense to them in a way that “dehydration” never did, so they actually did give their children more water, and fewer children died.”

“It’s interesting how language affects our perception of reality. The words for tomorrow and yesterday are the same in Hindi, so I actually tend to get those days confused…”

I’m home.