I moved to North Carolina in September, which you would think would give me enough time to assimilate. LOL no. It’s taken some adjusting, and some things are hard to let go of.
I’m aware that I brought this on myself. After a long year of NJ Transit commutes, elbowing my way down Broadway to my downtown office, living with crazy craigslist roommates in Brooklyn, and impatiently zooming past clusters of stupid tourists in Midtown with an adrenaline anger rush, I made a very, very conscious move down South — to breathe, to take life a bit slower, I said. Which I’ve done, and it’s been great, and I definitely feel like I have a home here.
But there are just some things I haven’t been able to shake. So, here are mine, and feel free to send any others my way.
You are generally impatient with most things more than the other people around you are.
Waiting on line (and you still say “on” line instead of “in” line) at Chick-fil-A in the South is as crazy as fighting for the Confederate side in the Civil War. By which I mean it makes sense in a contextual way but it’s still supporting what is in essence a very terrible idea.
I’m 100% convinced that the reason New York only has one pitiful Chick-fil-A buried in the depths of a NYU cafeteria is because their queuing would cause mass rioting. People just stand in large, confusing clusters, and make polite eye contact to say No, you go ahead. Forever. This generates a mosh pit of kindness and my food taking a million years. I come from the land where the Trader Joe’s I shopped at actually has paid employees who sort you into different color-coded checkout lines, okay? Let’s implement a system like that literally EVERYWHERE in the South.
But you run on a totally different social clock that stresses your new friends out.
I threw a few parties recently at my house and was majorly thrown off by everyone’s punctuality. Seriously, Southerners: the ONE thing you’re fast about is getting to parties the moment they are scheduled to begin? Couldn’t you have picked something else, like driving or walking or talking? ANY of those?
Here’s Friday night for a typical established New Yorker: Go to first gathering of night. It starts at 8. You arrive at 9. You are the first person there. Have a drink, stay until 10, go to second party, see someone you know from an old job, leave after 45 minutes. Continue “stopping by” at various things until it’s 2 a.m. A typical Friday night in North Carolina: Commit to one event. It starts at 8. You arrive at 8 and stay until 12, after which you go home and go to bed.
In the city, I attribute this phenomenon to the blend of cultures (especially South Asian and Caribbean/South American, which party late and party hard), ubiquitous subway troubles on weekend schedules, and the try-hard vibe of not wanting to seem committed or eager-beaver. Although it still throws me off to have people arrive on time, and though I’m still going to be a casual 15 minutes late to any social event ever, I’m going to hand the South this one for not being flaky.
You resist saying “y’all” even though you know it’s convenient.
“You guys” still serves its plural purpose for you. You even whip out the Jersey-fied “yiz” when you’re really riled up. But deep down within your fiercely Northern soul, a warm breeze from the South — probably from freaking Alabama or something — says, shh, you know this is easier. Just squish “you” and “all” together and everything will be okay. KEEP. RESISTING. THIS. VOICE. You’re stronger than this. You know you are. Y’all are stronger…ARGHHH!
You are regularly shocked by cultural norms that would definitely not be okay in the Bronx.
Actual Joanna thoughts: Some school had their prom at a plantation? Wait. People still have plantations? Wasn’t Thomas Jefferson’s the last one before they all got shut down? No one did a post-slavery rebrand and called them luxury farms or anything? OK, plantations still exist. That’s weird. Whoa, that house is flying the Confederate flag. I’ve never even seen one in person outside of a museum exhibit before. (TRUE.) Hasn’t anyone yelled at them to take it down yet?
You understand, Southern heritage, et cetera. You’ll try to respect that. But growing up in the North, the way the story universally goes up above the Mason-Dixon line is that antebellum Southern history is linked to the slavery that powered it. To consider them separately is new, and causing a lot of cognitive dissonance. And you’ll never quite get over it.
You have not, and never will, even attempted to eat a bagel or slice of pizza outside of the boroughs.
And even then, you’re still iffy on Staten Island. Which we all know doesn’t really count.
Are you transplanted somewhere far away from your place of origin? Is it funny? I wanna hear about it in the comments.