Tuesday, August 23, 2016

Barbecued ... What?


I'm not from the South, but I got here as fast as I could.

I recently passed a milestone of having lived below the Mason-Dixon Line for 30 years - longer than I lived north of it. My roots will always be in New York, of course, and I sometimes experience spasms of missing it terribly ... but during my freshman year at Hofstra, when I didn't have a car at my disposal and stood at the bus stop, quaking in the cold wind, I decided I wanted to live somewhere warmer. But life (in the form of boyfriends, mainly) got in the way, and so it was another nine years before my plan came to fruition. By that time, I was married, and one camping trip in Virginia and North Carolina planted the idea in both our heads that the world didn't begin and end at opposite ends of the subway line. We could live in a place with clearer nights, more green grass, a slower pace, cleaner air, and best of all, more realistic real estate prices. The milder (albeit dreary) winters were a given. They spoiled me: After 15 years or so, any trip to New York around Christmastime meant enduring those Arctic winds that feel like a storm of needles assaulting your face. My ex was immune to this, however; he is currently preparing a permanent move to Prince Edward Island in Canada, where things are frosty, the way he likes it.

Living in the South brought me innumerable experiences with an "exotic" culture that I had never dreamed of in my youth. I'm on a Facebook group made up of people from the same neck of the woods, and those who ultimately moved away love to amuse the ones who stayed with the quirky differences in terminology ("Buggy" vs. "shopping cart" and "license tag" vs. "license plate" are two examples). But the one that I encountered within weeks of moving to Atlanta is the one that really stands out for me. I can always tell where someone is from, based on how they use the word.