I was mentally reviewing a checklist of what clothes would need to be found or purchased, and that thinking turned into a plan about what we would need to pack. From there, I jumped to pondering how many activities we could pack into a week without turning the vacation into more work than fun.
Then I took a mental tour of all the fun things we could do, but wouldn't have time to do, and before I knew it, I found myself wrapped up in nostalgia and missing quite a few things about living in the South.
The whole process was all very If You Give A Mouse A Cookie-esque.
I'll admit that when I lived in the South I mostly daydreamed about when I wouldn't live in the South. It wasn't that I disliked the area, but I missed my family and the landscape of my childhood.
We spent a lot of time on hot Southern coasts, but I wanted my kids to know mountains and crisp autumn mornings and deciduous trees that seemed to burst into flame overnight and cold Christmas mornings and SNOW.
Surprisingly, they weren't getting much of that where we lived. I remember riding in a convertible with the top down on New Year's Day, which was fun, but just seemed unnatural to a girl whose every fiber was programmed to be wearing a parka by that time.
But since we try to be a "bloom where you're planted" kind of people, we always found something great about where we happened to be. And now that time has passed, I find that I miss the South more than I ever thought I would when we moved back above the Mason Dixon Line.
Pennsylvania will always feel like home to me, but there are some great things about the South that the North just can't match. Sorry, but it's true.
- The word y'all. Seriously, this is a great word. I wish that I could get away with it up here. It is so much more elegant (yeah, I said elegant.) than youse or youse guys or even you guys. I don't want to be a you guys. I want to be a y'all. And all y'all is even better.
- Sweet tea. I know we have Chik-Fil-A up here, and they do make a mean sweet tea, but you can be pretty sure of getting a proper sweet tea in almost any eating establishment in the South. Take note, Northerners: Snapple in a restaurant cup does not equal proper sweet tea. Just sayin'.
- Less clothing for the seasonal clothing switch. It gets warmer earlier and stays warmer later, so you can really get about three seasons worth of wear out of lighter weight clothing. I used to wail that the South had two seasons: Summer and FACE OF THE BLESSED SUN. Now that I have four kids worth of clothing to wrangle, I look back not too unfavorably on that. Besides, people in the South treat their summer like we treat our winter. We avoided going outdoors and found fun things to do in the AC.
- The beaches! Now, I know that not everyone in the South lives near a beach, but those who do know what a good thing they've got going. I grew up with the Jersey Shore, and while I have great memories of summers spent on the sand, once I set foot on the beaches of the Gulf of Mexico I was lost forever to New Jersey. Clear, warm water . . . sugary soft sand . . . oh man, I need a vacation . . .
- Liquor in grocery stores. Ok, ok, I realize this is not just a southern thing. There are lots of normal states out there who sell their alcohol in the grocery store and not in a state controlled store, but the first time I walked into a Winn-Dixie and saw a wall of wine to my right, I thought, How convenient! I'm not a big drinker, but there have been many recipes that I have not tried simply because I would have had to make a separate trip to the state store. I know this makes me just plain lazy, but I miss that.
- Biscuits. I mean real, fluffy biscuits, not the kind that you buy in a cardboard tube. And real southerners will probably dress me down for saying this, but sometimes, when the mood hits me hard, I would trade one of my kids for a sausage and egg biscuit from Bojangles. Thank God there are no Bojangles up here. The rest of Southern cuisine is delicious too (grits, I'm looking at you), but it's the biscuits that get me.
- The people. I probably should have put this first, but I miss the people. Don't get me wrong, I love Northerners, I am one, but there is something open about the South. People you don't know wave to you on the street. Small talk crops up naturally in the stores. I found that overall there was less of a tendency to be suspicious of people's niceness down South. Up here, everyone thinks you have an angle or that you are trying to scam them. It can be a little stressful. (this is not to make the North sound like some kind of hostile place -- I just think people keep their guard up a little longer.)
I'm always happy to go South; it feels like a homecoming of sorts. And it's funny to me that Francie and Fiver are very proud of the fact that they were born in the South, even though what they remember about the states of their births fades with every passing year.
I've always been interested in what keeps people tied to their geographical region. Is it love, family, obligation, work?
What about you, my friends? Do you live in a place other than where you were born and raised? Do you miss anything about a place that you used to live?