We lived in the South for a few years and I remember very well how it made me feel when we moved there. People were so friendly and so sweet. Overnight I had become everybody’s Darling, they all greeted me in the exact same way; “Hey Darlin’ what can I get you?”
Were we still in the same country? And if so, did a time machine transport us back in time?
I knew right from the start that I stood out. It felt like I was the only liberal, nonreligious woman there who refused to eat okra, but then over time, I met other unicorns.
People were very friendly, neighbors stopped by our house and we were welcomed. Southern hospitality, that’s really something we in the North should practice more often. That’s something you can’t explain, you have to experience it.
Some looked at me funny and wanted to know where my accent was from. “Darlin’ where are you from?” they asked and I explained it over and over. Then I got tired of it and just said, “From the North.” “Ahhhh, a Yankee,” they said and it made me giggle inside. I am an Austrian Yankee, that would make my Grandma proud.
I met great people there, we had good times and I have very nice memories, but I also got confronted with things that I thought weren’t existing anymore. The first sight of a confederate flag shook me up, the second one made me raise my eyebrow, then sadly I got used to them. The racism that is openly admitted, that’s one of the reasons why we left there.
Some old Southerner’s never accepted me because I was a foreigner and they denied me the right to be one of them. “You weren’t born here Darlin’,“ they said, meaning that I didn’t understand their values and they were right, I didn’t and I didn’t want to. Sometimes I teased them and asked what tribe they were from, some understood what I was saying, others just shook their head.
I wasn’t born her in the U.S. but I am an American citizen, a first generation immigrant. Like it or not, I might see things a little bit cleared because for that exact reason.
I am very grateful that we lived in the South for a few years; what a beautiful place it is. I treasure the friends I made and we stay in touch on an almost daily base. Living there had helped understand the cultural division between the North and the South. Some of these cultural differences might have waned since colonial times, but some are still apparent today. I traveled a lot in my life and each travel formed me and changed me, made me the woman I am today.
Today I am more open and outgoing because of the time I spend in the South. I will never call everybody “Honey,” or “Darlin’,” but I speak kinder and I am more inviting. We have cookouts and BBQ’s in our home and my workshop is always open for my neighbors.
I wish everybody in the South would live in the North for a few years and vice versa. It’s so much easier to understand differences if you actually lived them. Being a unicorn can be, especially if you meet others just like you.
I could write a novel about my time in the South, but I found a quote that will do a much better job.
“It was always so hot, and everyone was so polite, and everything was all surface but underneath it was like a bomb waiting to go off. I always felt that way about the South, that beneath the smiles and southern hospitality and politeness were a lot of guns and liquor and secrets.”
― James McBride