We were Yankees with the last name of Sherman moving from the Jersey Shore (not that Jersey Shore, lest you get the wrong idea) onto 234 acres in Windsor, South Carolina. Where’s Windsor, you may be asking? Great question. It’s a one-traffic light town outside of the huge metropolis of Aiken, South Carolina (read sarcasm here).
Things weren’t looking too good for our introduction to the South when our family moved just before middle school. I remember my dad warning us to not respond to all these overly-friendly people who all said “heeyy y’all” to us though we knew them not. Surely they had ulterior motives. I remember how hard it was adjusting to the snails pace at the grocery store, post office and bank. I remember being befuddled that there was no distinction between the words “pen” and “pin” or “Ben” and “bin.” I vowed never to lose my beloved Jersey accent and never to use the word “y’all.”
But after living in the South for more than a decade as a “resident alien,” somewhere in there the y’all snuck in, the distinctions blurred, and I ended up a little bit Yankee and a little bit y’all. I learned in my History of the English Language class in college that having a distinction between you singular and you plural was actually correct for the original English language; that the North was backwards to have chiseled it down to one. I think from then on the South started creeping into my heart and blood.
Don’t get me wrong, I still drink unsweetened tea, still have a respect for ice hockey (go Devils!), and still cringe when I see the rebel flag. I still cry after s really Southern shower or party, knowing I could never enjoy throwing one of those (even pinterest couldn’t get me there; its just not in my Yankee DNA). However, in the South, I learned the importance of the kitchen as the life-center of a home. I learned how to slow down and earnestly look into the eyes of a stranger. I learned that making a meal for a grieving family is ministry indeed, and I learned that hospitality really is a dying art.
If you know me, you know I have always known we didn’t belong in the South forever (goodness knows I am too honest and not sweet enough for a lifetime in the South); however, I will say that I didn’t realize how much the South has snuck in.
When my family came into Aiken, goodness know we turned some heads. You true Southerners were probably saying, “Bless their hearts; they need some help! Quick, someone get them Southern Living and a fancy tea set!” Still no fancy tea set or Southern living here, but I will my time in the South did me well.
Though I am no Paula dean or Betty homemaker, I do hope and pray that I can share some of the South that snuck in with Southern California