Wednesday, June 26, 2013

An Open Letter to the South From A Northern Convert

To the South, to Dixieland, to Sweet Home Alabama:

I grew up a true northerner. I lived in the heart of the Midwest. I saw snow eight months out of the year. I said "pop," "Or-eh-GON," and "New Or-LEENS." I didn't drink sweet tea, and I had never had a collared green or grits. Going to a barbecue meant I was eating hamburgers and hot dogs. You'd never hear me saying "y'all," "yes sir," or "yes ma'am." "Bless your heart" sounded like a compliment to me. I didn't know the real versions of Sweet Home Alabama or Dixieland Delight. I didn't know what Nike Tempos were. I never said 'hey' to random strangers. I didn't own more than three sundresses. I was extremely blunt. I never had to spend more than 2 days in row in 100+ degree heat. I had no idea that so many things could be fried. I had never even heard of a crawfish, much less know how to eat one. I didn't own a pair of cowboy boots. I had never seen a cockroach. I truly thought chivalry was dead. I was type-A, always going, never taking a breath. I always needed a plan and I needed to know it yesterday. Everything had to be mapped out, and my life had to follow my plan exactly.

Then I moved to the South, and my entire life changed.

There were times when I went into minor culture shock. Everyone my age was engaged and getting married. The Bible Belt was a real thing. People were sweet to your face and rolled their eyes behind your back. Things were just done a certain way and I didn't know if I would ever get used to it. But I did, and I fell in love.

I refrain from calling it pop or soda and just order my drink. I know it's Oregon & New Orleans. Sweet tea is my favorite drink behind espresso (but I still don't eat grits). I know real barbecue is pulled pork. "Y'all" is part of my everyday vocabulary, and I say "yes sir" and "yes ma'am" regularly. If I ever hear someone say bless your heart, I know it isn't good. I can sing every word to Sweet Home Alabama and Dixieland Delight. I own 15+ pairs of Nike Tempos and countless sundresses. I smile and greet most people I make eye contact with. I know what real heat feels like, as well as what it's like to lay out at a pool in March. I've had fried Twinkles and fried Oreos. I can peel and eat a crawfish, and I even know what a good crawfish looks like. I own a pair of genuine cowboy boots, which are great for smashing cockroaches. And chivalry isn't dead, it's just moved south.

I'm still blunt, still type-A, and still a bit of a bitch, but the South has truly warmed me and my northern heart. I know how to slow down, and I know I don't need a plan all the time. Moving here was easily the best decision that I've ever made and it has forever changed me. I know that no matter where life takes me, I will be back.

This isn't goodbye, it's until next time.

2 comments:

  1. OMg! I had the reverse experience. I grew up in Arkansas and went to Iowa State. I called everything coke, and said y'all. It was crazy!!

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    Replies
    1. Haha I bet the reverse experience would be even crazier!

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