Today, I was greeted with this phrase by a middle-aged Asian lady, who promptly stammered out, “uuuhhh… it’s just because I’ve never seen you in here before…” Oh, you… you are funny. It’s OK. I know. You don’t think I’m from ’round these here parts, but in fact, I am. But it is a phrase I get asked a lot. Variations of “Where are you from?” abound in my yearly life. There’s a lot of reasons I can surmise why I am asked this question; anything from the fact that I’ll wear a tank top in 50 degree weather while everyone else is bundled for an arctic expedition, to my lack of general drawl and diphthong of a southern speaker, or my lack of y’all in casual conversation. Southerners think that every southerner can’t handle the cold or should have grown accustomed to it if they really were from here.
I’ve lived here in this town my entire 35 years and I have never adjusted to the weather. It’s always too warm and the cold is just lovely to me. I can’t speak for other natives of the south as all the one’s I know are not like me. I can see, from this, how they assume I’m from the north, the west, or Europe. I do in fact have the drawls and diphthongs of a southerner, they just are not as pronounced or as heavily laden as a lot of the people around me. Anyone not from here can spot it in a second; they do and they have. But these local people who are cashing my wares out at the register or taking my order are not going to have a lengthy enough conversation with me to hear any of this. I suppose the fact that I’m all business when I get to the counter is odd, when all day long they encounter customers who are more laid back, like to chit-chat, and actually sound on par for this area.
If, however, say, I’m not ordering anything from you and we are on friendly terms, you will definitely notice that I am southern. I love the term y’all, I am frequently fixin’ to do this or that, and here in Sarah land it is most assuredly ‘painch’ and not pinch.
Sure there are things that raise a red flag. Things like I’m not good at gardening or that I don’t know how to can. I’m not good with building a fire or that I am not fond of greens, pea’s, apple pie, sweetened ice tea. But I was born here. This is my home. It’s magical, the people are eccentric, there’s a lot of awesome things here. Plus, I can make a messa corn bread that will melt in your mouth and I am not afraid of bacon grease and I do know how to use it!
It used to bother me that I was “too southern”, to where people made fun of my accent, assuming I was unintelligent. It also used to bother me, later, when people had to ask if I was from here. But I can’t be too sussed about people wondering how exactly I fit it. I don’t. I never have. I won’t ever. I’m perfectly peachy keen about this, though it took me a long time to get here.
I just want to say to you, my home state in the south, I love you. I love your people, I love your struggles and who you are and always have been. I love your creativeness; I love your hospitality, your caring and giving hearts. I find it a bit too warm most of the year, but I don’t really hold that against you.