I miss the South. There, I said it. I never, ever thought I would say it but lately I’ve been finding myself fantasizing about packing up about 40% of my stuff, selling the rest and heading south of the Mason-Dixon line. Way south. As most of you know I grew up in Arlington, VA which is technically south of the Mason-Dixon line but doesn’t possess the Southern culture that I know and love by way of my extended family and my college experience. There are a lot of things about the South that I miss at this moment:
The (lack of) Cost – Simply put, you get a lot more bang for your buck down South. I’m fortunate to live in a large apartment with more space than anyone else I know in New York City at a fairly budget friendly price. What’s the drawback? I live with three other people. I love my roommates more than anything and I know that living with other people has really made my experience in New York City but there are just some days where I want to be in my own space! Also, we have one bathroom. Enough said. A couple of months ago I was in Charlotte, North Carolina taking a tour with an awesome guide who was about my age. One of my favorite things to do when I travel is to compare daily aspects about my life in NYC to the lives of folks my age in other cities and my favorite question is “what are rent prices like here?” Although our guide didn’t live right in the heart of downtown Charlotte he lived in the beautiful suburbs and paid…wait for it…$750 for a two bedroom apartment. Yep, $325 a month. I’m pretty sure I cried.
THE FOOD – This statement deserves all caps. I will admit that there are some excellent Southern-inspired restaurants in the city but they all seem to desperately scream “WE’RE SOUTHERN”! Also, the menu is hardly varied…fried chicken and biscuits does not a Southern restaurant make. I realize that I am so jaded because a) I come from a Southern family who cooks all the time and b) I have become a jaded New Yorker, but serving sweet tea somewhere does not make you a Southern restaurant! Dining in the South is such an all-sensory experience. Unless my food is being served my someone with a Southern accent who is calling me sweetie or baby and I can order something that feels like it’s feeding my soul but is not necessarily deep fried…you just ain’t got it.
The space/people – Living in New York makes these two things directly related. There are people EVERYWHERE in New York City. There are days when it is just absolutely wonderful being surrounded by people. When I have nothing to do and nowhere to be (a rare occasion) it’s so nice to just walk around my neighborhood and feed off of the energy of other people. Then…there are those other times when I literally want to Heisman the person next to me. The idea of personal space is so foreign here because we pack ourselves into subways, sidewalks, coffee shops, stores, restaurants, apartments (ha), basically anything you can think of. Sometimes it’s just too much. Like sir, why exactly are you standing literally centimeters from my face and oh…wait…great you just sneezed.
Also, there is this interesting concept about New York where you can constantly be surrounded by people yet still feel so lonely. New Yorkers are absolutely, 100% not as rude as non-New Yorkers try to pretend that we are but I will admit that we aren’t the warmest bunch. A smile and a hello to a stranger will most likely be met with a confused stare rather than a returned greeting. The key here is to simply not take it personally. We New Yorkers have places to be, things to do! We close ourselves off to the outside world with sunglasses and headphones because we are focused on our individual hustles. Nothing wrong with that, just an acquired taste I suppose.
Anyway I didn’t mean for this post to be a big wah wah wah about New York but more so a big bear hug to the South. What Southern cities do I imagine myself living it? I’m so glad you asked! Here are places I plan to visit, pretend to live in for a few days (or more) soon:
- Charleston, SC
- Nashville, TN
- Memphis, TN
- Chapel Hill, NC (of course)
- Charlotte, NC (already ready to go back!)
- Savannah, GA
- Knoxville, TN
- Little Rock, AR
- Oxford, MS
- Tulsa, OK
- Austin, TX
- San Antonio, TX
- Louisville, KY
- Wilmington, NC
And probably so many other cities I haven’t even considered. What’s your favorite Southern city? What do you love about it so much? Talk to me!