Even after 20 years living in the south, no one has ever mistaken me for being a good ole southern boy. I’ll say three words, and inevitably the first thing I hear is, “Boy, yarnt from around here, arya.”
To which I usually and quite smartly say, “Well, gosh, no I am not!”
“Bless your heart.”
Seriously, I would argue that southerners are some of the friendliest people we have met, and anyone who has tracked our journeys knows we have met a lot of people in a lot of places.
Some of you may have heard we are in the process of selling our home in the Atlanta area and buying a home up in New England. This is a big move for us, and we are both happy and sad at the same time.
When told of our intentions, the typical response is, “I don’t think we’ve ever heard of someone retiring to New England.” Well, you are not alone – neither have we.
I took a little time in between packing boxes to reflect back on a few of our experiences over these years.
Some say the weather is going to be a big change, but you’d be surprised at how much snow and cold the Atlanta area receives. What is shocking is how poorly everyone does when it snows here! An inch of snow (or even the threat of an inch of snow) is enough to cancel school, cause lines at the gas pumps, and outages of food at the supermarkets. And quite frankly? When southerners get behind the wheel of a car in snow, run for cover – it’s not pretty.
The south is a land of contrasts, as anyone who has ever traveled can see. You go from huge McMansions, to sprawling subdivisions, to rural and captivating views in the blink of an eye.
We have had a blast living here, building careers, raising our kids, making friends, and enjoying life.
We live in East Cobb (Marietta is technically our mailing address), and there have been some great events and activities in and around Marietta Square, from farmers markets, to free concerts, great restaurants, and summer nights where musicians play music on street corners.
Like anywhere, there is traffic and construction, but I enjoy the subtle sense of humor for those who create the signage.
And quite frankly there is no more beautiful place on earth than the southeast in the spring, when flowering trees and plants burst on the scene.
Food? Oh yeah. While New England can rightfully claim the high road on seafood and chowder (chowdah), the south has a lock on smoking, frying and boiling foods. We have been introduced to great BBQ, fried turkeys, and Low Country Boils.
And the arts! There is a rich fabric of the arts here in the south as displayed in a variety of ways, whether it is paintings, sculptures, music, theatre… whatever be your pleasure.
There is rich history here, particularly as it pertains to the Civil War. Tragically many lives were lost, and in some cases brothers fought brothers, and families fought families.
There are many differences living in the south compared to living, say, in the northeast; foods, weather, accents, you name it. But if I had to pick one thing that defines living in the south more than any other single thing? Football. Yup, football.
Football is not a sport here. It is a way of life; almost a religion. If you drive through Tennessee on a Saturday afternoon in the fall, you will be hard pressed to find someone not wearing orange. People associated with UGA (University of Georgia) buy red trucks because that is the team color. Drive anywhere around Atlanta on a Saturday and you will see (mostly) SEC team décor affixed to cars – flags, banners, you name it. And of course you’ll see Clemson orange tiger paws, Ohio State buckeyes, and Michigan wolverines mixed in.
That’s Saturday. Fridays are high school football, and there isn’t much less fervor for high school football. Add in the high school and college bands, staging, color guards, coaches, players, equipment, TV coverage, and everything else associated with this sport, and every weekend you can see activities that would rival any military troop movement.
And you know what? It’s fun! When our daughter went to Auburn University (War Eagle!) we tailgated a number of times at home games, and what a freaking blast! To this day we curse every time we see Nick Saban on TV. But it’s all just fun, and the community supports these activities!
If you make a modest effort, the south affords you almost unlimited supply of beautiful, gorgeous settings to enjoy nature.
We look forward to our next chapter in New England, but we will forever miss our time, friendships, and experiences living in the south. And I will say that much of what has been a magical experience for us has been as a result of living in our very special neighborhood – love you all!
Bless your heart.