I've been reading a series of books by Carolyn Haines for a little while now. I picked up the newest book int he series at the library this weekend. The books are murder mysteries based in the Mississippi Delta. The author is actually from Mississippi and so the books are so accurate that it's almost scary! From the use of first and middle names when talking to someone to the friendly and charming actions and speech, it really is on the money.
The South is different. For anyone not living in the South, you just won't get it. I moved to Mississippi from Florida. We joked that we had to move North to go South! Because, let's be honest, Florida is sooooo not the South. Florida is a weird mixture of Florida Crackers who have lived there for generations, Yankee transplants, Cuban immigrants and Haitian immigrants. The culture is different. Where I lived, in Central Florida, it was like a melting pot. Living in a college town, we had all nationalities, religions and political ideologies all mixed up together. People were very tolerant and accepting for the whole. People tended to be a little standoffish but friendly. There was a tendency towards rudeness, especially in the college town, and while I loved my friends and family and liked my town, it wasn't a big wrench to leave.
Mississippi is like a foreign country. Talk about culture shock! People are open and welcoming. There is a tendency to be all up in other people's business that I was never used to. While welcoming everyone, the people (as a whole, not at all across the board however) tend to be more judgmental. Less tolerant of differences in religion, sexual preferences or political beliefs. It's been weird. I love the friendliness and the openness. I hate the fact that I feel as if I need to hide the fact that I do not go to church. Or the fact that I am pro-Choice. Or even the fact that I have friends and relatives who are gay. Now, if you know me.... you know I am not one to hide anything. So, I have struggled with my need to be as open and up front as I normally am and juggling that with not wanting my daughter to have issues at school because of people judging us.
Poor Jenna had a rough week last week. Some people here seem to find the idea that my husband and I got married on Halloween to be weird. They have called us Satanists or asked if we worship the devil or are witches. I laugh at them. Jenna gets mad. She spent all last week telling people they needed to get their facts straight and that Halloween had nothing to do with the devil.... she got quite angry about the whole situation.
I think I lost the point of this blog post....
Basically, what I am saying is that while living in the South has been a revelation and an education, I will not be sad to leave. I will miss some of the people. And I will miss the friendliness and charm of strangers.... but I will be glad to get back to where I can be myself without any fear that my children will suffer as a result.
The South. A big mish mash of wonderful, beautiful, charming people and places mixed together with a surprising amount of judgment and inability to accept change and differences. Maybe it is just the small town South that is this way.... or maybe it is just me.