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Where I’m From

Funny thing about college is that whenever you meet someone new, you’re asked where you’re from. That conversation invariably goes like this.

Stranger: So where are you from?

Me: Nashville.

Stranger: Oh, Tennessee. I can tell by the accent.

Me: No, North Carolina.

And as I have come to realize in the past few years, my hometown has affected me on several levels from how I carry myself to how I interact with other people.

My speech is perhaps the most obvious. You will never hear me yell, my voice carries far enough that I never need to. I speak with a slight drawl and each word is chosen deliberately. I am fairly blunt but almost always polite. It bothers me when I hear people disrespecting others, especially their elders. For this reason, I use “Sir” or “Ma’am” to refer to people which apparently puts some off.

The town I came from is kinda well known for having some of the best barbecue in North Carolina (which is a HUGE compliment). Sweet tea, chicken, cabbage, collard greens, fish, grits, and cornbread are all foods I love. I know what chitlins are and like them even if they do stink to high heaven. Pig pickin’ cake, peach cobbler, and/or banana pudding are served at any gathering I go to.  And like so many other Southerners, I enjoy a shot of moonshine or a cold beer over pretty much any other alcoholic beverage (barring hot buttered rum).

Nashville has a population of about 3,000, smaller than many high schools (my graduating class had about 150) in large cities. This meant that any time I went out somewhere I was bound to run into someone I knew every block or so. You knew who peoples’ families were, what they did, how long they had lived there, who was sick, who was pregnant, basically it was like a village.

I remember when the town would pretty much shut down on Friday nights for high school football games. I also remember the victory parties held out in the boonies where you’d have about 200 or so (semi) drunken teenagers.

I remember when people got incredibly excited when my town finally had a Wal-Mart.

I remember going fishing with my pap (paternal grandfather) and learning how to gut, clean, and fry what I had caught.

I remember working in a small restaurant on Main Street and having people who knew me from church or school coming in if only just to say hello.

I remember laughing whenever people got freaked out by the horses that are ridden down the sidewalk.

I remember not feeling like it was Christmastime until Main and Church Street had been decorated with wreaths , candles, tinsel, with a Nativity scene in the town square.

I remember going to church on Sunday mornings, singing in the choir, gathering by the riverside when someone was being baptisized, and volunteering to help whenever vacation bible school or revivals cropped up.

I remember getting excited for the town and county fairs that happened every summer and fall respectively. The food, the line dancing, the games, the fireworks, they were easily a highlight of my year.

I have people tell me often (Eva is good for this one) that it is better to grow up in a city than a small town like mine as there was nothing to do. My response is to tell her that we turned out just fine.

This is where I’m from.

And I’m damn proud of it.

Categories: Uncategorized
  1. February 24, 2009 at 7:07 PM

    Good! I’m a Pittsburgh girl, but my mother’s side of the family are all from Charleston, SC. Basically, if you’re black and live on James Island, I’m related to you. But I love visiting. Good food, friendly people, family. It’s good stuff.

    They don’t have Captain D’s up here. 😦

    When I was a kid, I remember my cousin telling to never marry a girl from the nearby town of Hollister as there was a 90% chance she was related to me.

    I’ve had Captain D’s when I went to Myrtle Beach last summer. Delicous!

  2. February 24, 2009 at 7:24 PM

    We were actually appalled that the city closest to us was getting a Wal-Mart; it has taken so much away from locally-owned businesses.
    I live in a small rural town that’s known for the annual Truck Show and Highland Games, so I can relate to everything except the accent 🙂

    Nashville’s local businesses are either ma-and-pop restaurants and convenience stores so there hasn’t been a real negative impact on the town’s economy.

    When I was in high school, I remember skipping with one of my friends to go see a truck show about an hour away.

  3. February 24, 2009 at 7:32 PM

    I grew up in both… a city just across the river from Manhattan and a town in VA of 1500. Both have their advantages… and disadvantages. It’s what you make of where you are that matters… sounds like you made a lot of Nashville 🙂

    I’ve lived in two college towns with major universities (UNC-Chapel and UF) and those are about as large as I’m comfortable with. I can’t really imagine leaving that close to a huge city like New York.

  4. February 24, 2009 at 10:52 PM

    That sounds so idyllic, gosh!

    Do you miss the small town feeling, and do you think you’ll ever move back?

    It had its problems, yes but it was home.

    Chapel Hill has about 50,000 people so every once in a while I feel a bit claustrophobic but having lived in two college towns it’s not nearly as bad as it once was. One thing I love about where I live now is that despite the fact it’s so packed (mostly with students) is that I still see people I know everywhere.

    And no, I don’t intend to move back to Nashville. However, pretty sure I want to live in a small town after university. Depends on where I find a job teaching really.

  5. Tinkerbell
    February 24, 2009 at 10:53 PM

    Well, you know about my town.

    I do, I remember riding through it for a few minutes and thinking how much it was like my own hometown. We’re both small town kids at heart.

  6. February 25, 2009 at 11:39 AM

    It’s always great to be proud of where you grew up, even if some of us northerners might cock our head a little or raise an eyebrow at the differences between our childhood lifestyles and yours. But in the end, it’s all in what we make it out to be and who we become. That stuff just helps shape it.

    I remember going to visit my cousins up in East Orange and Newark, NJ as a kid and being so confused by what they did. Those trips also led to me despising the word “pop”.

    Silly Yankees.

  7. February 25, 2009 at 1:14 PM

    You know I love the Cack. You can’t beat four incredible years in Chapel Thrill… just can’t.

    You went to UNC?! It’s amazing how excited this makes me.

    I was born in the hospital here and now I’m back to finish my last two years of college. No you can’t beat it.

  8. February 25, 2009 at 2:44 PM

    What’s amazing about blogging is that you can’t hear someone’s voice or accent. W

    ow, you have a southern accent!

    Being a California girl, I have such a soft spot for anyone from the South. I’ve always been drawn to friends from the South — it’s that genuine kindness I’ve found.

    I feel so proud for having given my child a good old-fashioned southern name.

    I have had a video camera on my list of things to buy for years but whenever I have the money to spare, something else I deem important comes up and it gets pushed aside. This way I can actually vlog and you would hear it. I can’t open my mouth without people being able to tell I was raised here. It’s that Southern hospitality we carry with us. ; )

    Your daughter and my great-grandmother have the same name so yes, it is a great name.

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