Monday, November 16, 2009
Posted by Mandy at 12:28 PM
In the past couple of years, I have had amazing opportunities to become friends with people from all over - not just all over America, but the world. Hearing their accents, their ideas on kids, marriage, and life, and just learning about their cultures, foods, and families has been so much fun! It has really opened my eyes on how secluded in my little southern town I have been.
Sometimes I feel that I just don't belong in the true South. I hear about how people live in other countries or areas and I think, "I should have been born there... that's so me!"
Something always happens though that makes me realize how much I love being a southern girl.
This past weekend I had the pleasure of attending my "little" cousin's wedding shower. (and when I say little.. she is now an adult.. but she'll forever remain 7 years old in my brain) A lot of our family and some old friends were there along with some of their children. Watching the interaction of born-and-bred southern women with each other just made me smile. I wonder if women from other areas of America act the way we do, speak the way we do, or if they could possibly be as dramatic, sweet, and catty as we can be.
As soon as someone would walk into the room, squeels of joy from long-lost-friends would erupt, Hug Fest '09 would begin, and words like "Darlin'," "Honey," and "Sugar," would be thrown around, totally interchangeable with names.
Gossip all begins with the same phrase, "Y'all are not gonna believe what I heard..."
No matter how old you are, you answer your elders with "m'am" and no matter how many times the much older ladies have seen you since you were 5, they always have to remind you that they can "remember when you were just 'this' big!"
Why is it that you can't remember them when they were "that" young? Strange, isn't it?
Hair is perfect... as is make-up. Always.
I loved hearing talk about farming, fields, tractors, and harvesting. It's been so long since I've been back to the land -o- fields... it was quite astonishing to see so much totally flat land. I began my sneezing fits as soon as I entered Arkansas County.
How did I manage to grow up here and not have allergies?
Oh yes... the real south. Where fields are abundant, work boots and dirty jeans are on every man that you see, and the women are sweet to you, whether they really like you or not.
One of my favorite things about being southern is hearing the children talk. Country accents.. the cute kind.. not the annoying "hillbilly" kind, coming out of the mouths of pig-tailed girls and rough and tumble boys; that's music to my ears.
Hearing them say "Yes M'am" so effortlessly because that's all they've known since they were born makes me grin. Watching them use those good manners they've been raised with makes me so proud.
These little moments are so precious to me now as an adult. I suppose that is because I've had so much exposure to other ways of living. Not that one way is better than the other -but this is simply the way I have lived. The way I was raised.
I've learned that kids in northern areas aren't required to say "m'am" or "sir" and they find it so strange that we stress it so much as a part of good manners. Our sayings like "y'all" or "fixin' to" make sense only to us. The way we can make a one syllable word draw out into at least three... that is a special skill that only real southerners possess.
I've learned that we're just a bit different down in the south. Men holding doors and tipping their hats (even if they've traded cowboy hats for baseball caps.. it's all the same), women swapping stories and laughing hysterically over the skillets of fried foods in the kitchen, and kids running and playing in the open grass - without a store or a building in site - that's the south that I grew up in.
Where you catch lightening bugs after dark, you can ride your bike to your neighbors house, (which is 1/2 a mile down the road) and you aren't afraid of strangers, because you've never met one... that's the south that I grew up in.
Where you grow up and swear that you can't wait to leave. That there's "nothing to do here." You can't imagine ever going back and looking fondly over the small town in which you grew up. Until you do grow up. And you think back to the laughs with friends, the talks with your brothers that lasted until the wee hours of the morning (because they didn't come in from farming until after 9pm all summer long), and the comfort of simply stopping at a gas station or fast food place and having everyone know you. Yep. That's the south I grew up in. And, I've realized, it's the south that I dearly love.
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