*Written while enjoying a pint of Blue Bell ice cream*
I never saw myself having a life here. I had visited southern cities several times in my life, but I never thought I would end up in one. We have now been stationed below the Mason-Dixon line since we met seven years ago. Y’all…the South is amazing. There are truly so many reasons to love The South. It has everything I want for myself, my family, and our future. Yes I know that we may be told to pack it up at any point; but we both agree the South is where we will call home in the end.
Let me explain why….
This word DOES NOT have the same meaning down here as it does everywhere else. Family down here is not something just determined by blood. They are your people. They are your tribe. You will have some sweet, some sour, and some plain crazy (honestly probably a lot of crazy); go ahead and accept that. Southerners will pull you in and treat you as though you’ve been related all your life.
Boudin, gumbo, jambalaya, crawfish, etoufee, meat pies, fried pies, muffulettas, king cakes. I truly could have kept going. Part of me is convinced that the people down here are so nice simply because they are so happy with the food! Ok Ok, most things have at least one stick of butter in the recipe. I don’t care. I could spend a lifetime visiting every southern restaurant there is. There is flavor, there is spice, there is sweet, and there is savory. It is all covered down here, and it is covered so well.
Yes, I just wrote about the food. Yes, Blue Bell ice cream gets its own heading. Why? When I first started working at my high school, my co-workers (now family) were in mourning. I am not exaggerating. Blue Bell was having a crisis and was off the shelves for months. You would have thought that we were having some sort of national emergency or something like that. Nope. It was ice cream. My apologies, it was BLUE BELL! There are actual conversations that start with “Have you tried the new Blue Bell flavor?” I didn’t get it then. I get it now. Go get some. You’re welcome.
“Yes Ma’am” and “No Sir” are alive and well down here. I love it. I have never understood why people outside of the southern states get offended by these titles. When a student doesn’t understand something I have said, 100% of the time their response is “Ma’am?” All ladies are “Miss” and all men are “Mister.” It is second nature and never ceases to remind me that there is still room for manners in this day and age.
Southern terms just roll off the tongue a little sweeter. I really mean that. The words, the accent, they feel like honey in your mouth. They move a little slower, yet they have more “sugar” than regular words. “Y’all” just sounds right. Go ahead, try it. Someone is always “fixin” to do something or other. If you are caught off guard you might just “fall out.” Southerners are also geniuses at insulting you while sounding sweet. “Bless your heart” is quite possibly the best sentence in existence. They might be saying something kind, or they might be telling you to F*** off, you may never know. However, I guarantee you they are saying it with a smile.
Do not be surprised when the lady behind you in the grocery line starts telling you about her grandma. She will somehow fit her last five years of family history into the five minutes you are both waiting to check out. This is completely normal. Have you met this woman before? Nope. Will you see her again? Doubt it. Will you somehow fit her story into one of your own later in the week? You bet you will. That’s just how it works. It’s kind of like how your friends quickly become family. Well, strangers become friends; five minute friends. These people will wish you a good day or say that they will keep you in their prayers, and they really do mean it!
I was raised with “Drive five miles down so-and-so rode and make a left on so-and-so street until you get to 123 Main St.” If you are down here, go ahead and kiss “regular” directions good-bye. Down here it’s “You’re gonna go keep goin’ a piece until you get to the Shell. Make a right by the Smith’s house and go down to the white fence. The house is caddy-corner to it.” Good luck; hope they didn’t paint that fence.
I love southern weather. You get that crispness in the fall, mild winters, rainy springs, and long summer days. While I was annoyed by southern summers in the beginning, I adore them now. The humidity makes everything slightly sticky. Lightning bugs come out and find new homes in mason jars. People sit in their driveways sipping sweet tea, watching kids run through sprinklers. You have significantly more t-shirts than you do sweaters and flip flops can be worn (and are completely acceptable) nearly year round.
A FEW MORE….
Sweet Tea – It’s automatic. I think you would have to actually ask for unsweetened; and why would you do that?
Big Bows – The higher the bow, the closer to God.
Monograms – If it ain’t movin’, monogram it. Shoot, even if it is movin’, hold it down and monogram it.
“The” – as in The Walmart, The Target, The Chik-Fil-A. Yep, it’s a thing.
Slow – Everything. If you are in a rush, you are in the wrong place.
Front Porches – How else are you going to get the neighborhood gossip?
Mason Jars – Crafting, canning, DIYs. They are used for literally everything.
Funerals – I am serious. The food and “getting a good seat” is really a thing.
Literature – Harper Lee, Eudora Welty, William Faulkner. The vibrant language of southern authors…*sigh* It is truly storytelling.
The South is full of beauty, culture, and family you just haven’t met yet. It is where I am happy to call home and plan to call home when it’s all said and done.
So tell me y’all, what would you add to this list?