11 September 2005

Home, in the South

John Scalzi's Weekend Assignment #76:  I (heart) the South.  What do you love and why, and what state has the best bbq?  (That's a bit paraphased and not direct quotage, but ya git the gist, doncha?)

Well, in Sept of 95, I moved to the South from Pennsylvania.  That was about as deep South as you can go without going back north.  What I mean by that is that Central and Southern Florida have such an influx of those from the North (and other areas) that sometimes Florida doesn't even seem to be of Southernly persuasion.

Right about Macon, GA; God snapped a fault-line and so starts Southern Georgia, a region vastly different than Atlanta and Northern Georgia.  Southern Georgia and Northern Florida are very similar, in topography, insects, plants, and attitude.  I lived in Valdosta, GA ("gateway to Florida" as it is about 25 miles north of Florida on hwy 75) as my first Southern locale.

After finishing my Master's in a year and a half, I moved to Alabama.  I first lived in a tiny little itty bitty neck of the woods where the road peters out past a prison.  I lived on a "cliff" above the Black Warrior River, and honey, let me tell ya, one misstep and crumbling clay'd give way and down you'd plunge to certain death.  I lived in rather odd circumstances and let's just say live improved mightily when I moved to Walker County.  Now for those of you who are familiar with the area, you might have some drastic opinions about that statement.

Walker County is not really known for its ability to play-nice.  Featured on almost all the evening news magazine-shows (ie 20/20, 48 Hrs. 60 min, Dateline, etc.) as being the place most likely to supply you with a hit-man if you happen to be in search of one, I can tell you that Walker County has had more than its share of very odd accidents, murders, trials, and other incidents that are rather newsworthy in other parts of the state and country.

It's a very poor county.  Children in the public school system are encouraged to bring not just your normal school supplies, but toilet paper and paper towels as well.  I shit you not.

I did work in Birmingham whilst living in Alabama.  After the All Women, New Women clinic was bombed in 98, just 2 blocks from my office and directly next to my parking lot; I decided I could probably find a job much closer to home.  That's when I took the job working with an indigent clinic.  I got out of THERE just in time as the entire system of clinics were shut-down and sued by the Federal Government for misfiling of millions of dollars worth of medicare and medicaid claims.  Then I went to work with a facility in Jasper, county seat of Walker County and 5 miles from home.  I was the Day Program Coordinator, with 80 clients who had various levels of mental  retardation (and some also had various forms of mental illnesses).  Then, just after the bombings of Sept 11, I decided I wanted to go back for my PhD and so moved to MS to do just that.

On a much more personal note, my life drastically improved when I relocated to Mississippi.  I again live at the end of the road, but this time, there is no prison nearby, nor dangerous cliffs, nor the odd accidents that were so commonly on my horizon in Alabama.  I have lived in the same location in MS since I arrived, making it the LONGEST amount of time I have lived in ANY one area at all.  Ever.  It's been almost 4 years.

So, I've been here in the South, by choice, calling it "home", for 10 years now.  In a few months, I'll be 35.  So, this region is home.  I don't know as if I'd ever actually leave for any significant amount of time.  My boyfriend of 2 yrs is a Tupelo native, living, working, and PhDing in Oxford.  Our schools are rivals (ole miss and msu) but that is not too much of a factor in our relationship.

My mother moved from PA to Tennessee in 98.  She is a rather adventuresome sort and if you think I might have some schutzpah, if you were to meet mom, you'd know I come by it honestly.  She lost her job due to the whole NAFTA thing, but they had a nifty little clause which stated that they'd offer to retrain you if you could prove that your job loss was due to NAFTA.  No problem with proof there, as the entire sewing factory was closed due to loss of contracts, most of which went to Mexico.

Mom went back to school and got her associate's at the age of 50.  She graduated, packed her car, and moved to Sevierville, TN in the Smoky Mountains, about 5 miles from Dollywood.  She lived there til about 2 yrs ago.  So I spent quite a bit of time in TN too.

Now she and my father live in Mena, AR.  They've been there for about two years.  So I have also spent time there. 

So, Georgia, Alabama, Mississippi all have been "home" for me.  Tennessee and Arkansas have been my folks' homes so they have been mine by proxy.  Traveled a bit in LA, more than a few times.  Spent time in Missouri as well.

So, as you can see, the South is home to me.  So what is my favorite thing of the south?  Why, the fact that it is home.  And by choice.  I moved here, I've explored here, I've stayed here.

Now, John, bbq is not a state thing.  No, I've been in various regions of the same state and had bbq that is vastly different than that of a neighboring county.  But if you want the absolute best bbq salad known to mankind, then you head to where all sportcasters and politicians know to go:  Greentop BBQ, just south of Sumiton/Dora on Hwy 78 heading into B'ham.

Life here in the south isn't always easy, but it sure nuf has been interesting and I can't imagine being anywhere else.

oh and a ps here:
I've also spent a few months in KY, where I helped to renovate a gated-community's clubhouse in Lexington.  Picture me doing the whole construction thing, pretty funny, huh?  But oh so true.  I wouldn't have to make stuff like that up, cuz life can truly be stranger than fiction.


  1. You truly are a "daughter of the South", LOL.  I did my time in southern Florida, but now am back in Illinois - for a while. Hmmm, you never know where I might end up. Rhonda

  2. Debs, I didn't know you spent wome time in Lexington, Ky. That is where I was born and raised. Now barbeque is something that I am fond of and it is all different in all regions of the country......haven't found any that I don't like.  Good entry.   Anne


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