I have lived in the South for most of my life. By the time my senior year of high school rolled around, I was determined to apply to schools far above the Mason-Dixon Line. As luck would have it, I ended up attending a university in the peach-worshipping, sweet-tea guzzling state of Georgia — a decision I wouldn’t trade for any in the world.
However, as I prepare to exit college and enter the infinitely more sinister Real World, I’ve begun looking for jobs and internships in places where the leaves on trees change colors during autumn. These are places I can spend my winters drinking hot cocoa in pea coats and catching snowflakes in my hair — the stuff of dreams for Southern Girls who’ve experienced little else than stifling heat and lung-crushing humidity for most of their lives.
Despite my eagerness to migrate northward, there are some aspects of Southern livin’ that I’ve grown to love and will miss dearly once I’ve packed my bags and headed elsewhere.
Here is a list of the six best parts of living in the South:
1. The hospitality and friendliness in this part of the country is nearly unparalleled. For example, when you move into a new house, there’s a high chance your neighbors will welcome you with a pitcher of freshly squeezed lemonade and an apple pie that they’ve just pulled out of the oven. You can be more or less certain that they’ve only sprinkled cinnamon atop that pie rather than some obscure drug that will rot your kidneys and cause you to bald.
2. Strangers will hold doors open for you, smile when they pass you on the sidewalk, and make small talk when the situation calls for it. Especially in big cities elsewhere, you’ll find that strangers tend not to acknowledge one another’s presences except when absolutely necessary. There, we are giant solipsists — focusing on our own here-and-now rather than remembering that other people inhabit the space around us. Here, “please” and “thank you” are integral ingredients of our vocabulary, and we can’t fathom the idea of being anything other than nice — even to those we don’t know.
3. The food is impeccable. It is laden with butter, salt, sugar, grease, and lard, but every single calorie is worth it. Actually, in the South, we don’t really consider calories. We fry our Oreos, dump bags of sugar into our tea, and slather our grilled cheese sandwiches in butter, Texas style. We savor every bite, and remember that Paula Deen got to enjoy herself, at least, pre-diabetes (however, most of us have hopefully disowned Paula Deen).
4. Though many moons have passed since the last time I got to put together a sloppily made snowman or feel my face freeze over in 20-degree chill, I can’t say that I haven’t enjoyed the weather here. Our seasons are three parts SoCo-swigging sunshine, and that means that tee shirts and jean shorts can be a viable outfit option for 75 percent of the year. The weather might limit our sartorial choices, but it makes many other things easier.
5. The easy-going culture can cause life to sometimes move as slow as molasses, but that only means that we here in the South have time to stop and smell the biscuits. We know when to put our iPhones, paperwork, and LinkedIn profiles away to play as hard as we work. How can you not when the people are fine and the weather is finer?
6. Speaking of playing hard, that’s what we do best. From tailgates to barbecues to nights out on the town, you will hardly ever meet people from other parts of the country who are as good as we are havin’ a good time (or slurring renditions of “Chicken Fried” and “Wagon Wheel”).