I decided to move home to Nashville while shopping for molasses at a Stop and Shop in Amherst, Massachusetts. Well, what I really needed that day was sorghum. I knew that was hopeless, so I settled for the poorer substitute. I was also deciding whether to beg my friend Joan for her spare pair of snowshoes. I’d already been trapped in my home twice that season, and though my internal calendar said the redbuds should be blooming, snow was falling outside.
I started my molasses hunt in the syrup aisle, where I would have found it in Tennessee. There were shelves of maple syrup, some of it packaged in jugs that reminded me of moonshine, some funneled into adorably kitschy farmhouse-shaped tins. I saw a few bottles of corn syrup hidden on the bottom shelf. There was an infinite variety of local honeys. But no molasses. Next I tried the condiment section. Still nothing. A clerk directed me to the Southern food section. There the molasses was, alongside a single box of grits and some buttermilk biscuit mix, smashed between the Mexican food and the Asian food in the International Food Aisle. “Right,” I thought. “Time to go home.”
I surprised myself by how certain I was of that decision. I had known for several months that I would be leaving Massachusetts, but I had figured on heading to New York or Chicago or D.C. or Atlanta. Nashville never made the list. I had spent too many years trying to escape (continue reading)