As I sat down to write this post, I thought, “It’s been a few weeks since I went on hiatus.” In actuality, it’s been several months. I’m sorry. I’m back and I’m back with a certain sass I thought I had lost!
I took a break because I felt I needed to, but I really didn’t explore why I felt that. It’s only now, after returning from a vacation to The South that I understand my motivation: I have an opinion, a voice–albeit sassy at times–and a right to share my thoughts, but I fell into the trap we know as political correctness. Not wanting to offend anyone by what I thought, not wanting to make friends uncomfortable by expressing my opinions, or to be criticized for what I wrote, I started tempering my words, which in turn, tempered my spirit, which left me uninspired to share. If I can’t be me, why bother.
Now, let’s be clear about something…even when I am sassy, I’m never mean. That just isn’t in me. So, I expect the same from you. This is my blog and I am going to share my thoughts and opinions in my own way; and I want you to feel free to share your opinions of my posts, but don’t be nasty about it. Agreed? Ok, now that’s out of the way, let’s move on.
I am, by birth, a West Coast girl. I moved to a place called “misery” (ok, really it was Missouri) with my family when I was twelve. From there I went to Tulsa, met and fell in love with the boy next door, who happened to be a Souther Boy by birth, and to be with him, I moved to the great Commonwealth of Virginia. I immediately felt at home with the yes ma’am and yessir, the sweet tea, the relentless family teasing, visits to Grandma’s and Sunday church followed by family lunch. While I wasn’t a big fan of the bushels of fresh steamed crab presented upon my first visit to The Rivah, I now know better. While it would take me a lifetime to pick a meal’s worth, I’ll take fresh crab over most anything these days!
Truth is, once my feet planted on Southern soil, I was home. I put down roots and those roots went deep very quickly.
Unfortunately, after sixteen firmly-planted years, we had to follow the job and for the past eighteen years, I’ve been a Northerner. While I’ve adapted to much of this life, including the long, cold winters, I miss the cordiality of the South. And the sass. There’s sass here, but it’s a different kind of sass and often borders on hostility.
Recently I had the pleasure of spending a few days in Savannah, Georgia and feel like my soul has awoken from a long, long, long slumber. While the sweet tea, slow southern drawls, relaxed pace of life and beautiful scenery had a calming effect on me, it’s what was happening beneath the surface that I wasn’t aware of until my return home.
While in Savannah, everywhere I went people–of all ages, sexes, races and religions–were cordial to one another, interested in each other, courteous, and sought out commonalities. There was a sense of kinship and respect of each other as individuals. I met vacationers, transplants and life-long residents; I spent time with tour guides, restauranteurs, shop owners, and employees of the hotel and other establishments; people danced while listening to music in City Square, sang along to local balladeers, and everyone commiserated on the stifling heat. People, even total strangers, interacted with one another! I heard stories of slavery told alongside stories of pirates, desecration of the city cemetery by Union soldiers, the hanging of Irish indentured servants, the world-wide impact of the Cotton Exchange, the success of Savannah’s favorite son, Johnny Mercer, the establishment of The Girls Scouts, Savannah’s multiple devastating fires, and her many ghosts.
Savannah embraces all of her history–the good, the bad and the ugly! There is a sense of pride and shared history that is missing here in the north.
Savannah has risen above so much tragedy and today welcomes visitors with a sense of humble Southern pride. Beneath that welcoming spirit is a certain pluckiness–a city that knows her roots, accepts who she was, but has moved forward. She doesn’t sweep her past under the rug while trying to fit into some mold, instead she is a progressive and vibrant city, intent on building bridges between the past and present, and between all who visit her.
I arrived to Savannah as a visitor, but left as a born-again Southerner. She reminded me the effects of Southern Charm. How refreshing honesty is. What it’s like to feel like part of a place. What it is to believe the past has power to positively shape the future and how the future can overcome the past. And, most importantly, how short life is, how fragile we can be, yet how strong we are when united.
In these times of so much political and religious division, it was refreshing to put that all aside and just be in the midst of grace, joviality, and a spunkiness you simply don’t see enough of these days. Savannah, you did me good.
And I’m baaaaaaaack!
The Yellow Kite