My Pops used to say, "I won't go to the south side of my house!" I am not sure what experiences he had with the South that fueled such a comment, but he meant it. He broke that rule when he visited me twice in Charlotte, where I live and where I am raising my children. I never - not once in my life thought I would be living south of the Mason-Dixon line. And here I sit. They say when you move to the South you are going to fall in love with one of two things: Jesus or NASCAR. There is literally a church on every corner - not a Starbucks like in Chicago but a really big church with real southern preachers. Praise Jesus.
When I first moved to Charlotte, I told people I was moving "out East". Ha! I came here kicking and screaming. Seriously, I was so stressed I developed Shingles. The closest I ever got to a Confederate flag was watching the Dukes of Hazard when I was a kid. I like to think I am an educated, worldly woman but I was afraid of the South. I had visited southern states, vacationing with friends and family over the years, but somehow, Florida didn't count towards my imaginary idea of the South. Like when I used to say I wasn't drinking that night, while holding a glass of wine in my hand. Somehow wine didn't count as drinking to me. Wine is like the Florida of the South.
Charlotte, or the Queen City (named after Queen Charlotte, wife of King Edward III of England), is mostly made up of folks from New York, New Jersey and Ohio - or so it seems to me. In my 6 years as a resident I think I have met 12 native Charlotteans. Regardless, the Southern roots run deep and it took me a few years to get used to the Southern ways.
"Hey baby" (not hitting on me, just saying hello)
"Hi sweetie" (not misogynistic, just saying hello)
"Have a blessed day honey" (not a missionary, just wishing me well)
It was like running into Flo from that sitcom Alice all day long. I haven't heard anyone say, "kiss my grits" but I have tried grits - no thank you. I'm a hashbrowns girl. Something else I noticed right away. I am three sentences away from the following topics: Civil War, slavery and fried chicken. Not always in that order. Who knew Mr. Williamson's US history class would come in so handy while I wait for my deli ham to be sliced at the Publix (thin not shaved please).
I can't write about the South without mentioning the heat. It's f*cking hot. That's all I have to say about that. Which leads me into my latest discovery - Sweet Tea. I love me some sweet tea. Just like in Europe when ordering water you have to specify still or sparkling. In the South when ordering tea you have to specify sweet or unsweet. Sweet - always sweet. Because if you order unsweet and add sweetner - you may get asked to leave - the South. It's like ordering a Chicago hot dog with ketchup. Definitely frowned upon.
I am a Northerner living in the South. But the longer I am here, the more intrigued I am.
Lori Ann Dinkins
One blog at a time, I write the truth about my life as it is, as I hope it will be, as I wish it would have been. Business insights and personal triumphs. Thank you for joining me.