JB's June Writing Challenge: Y is for ... Yankee

My bio says I'm a "bona fide Yankee transplanted to the South." In truth, I'm a bona fide Air Force brat who spent most of her youth in the North after Dad retired.

Years ago my old publisher invited its authors to contribute to a compilation of stories about our mothers (I think it was a Mother's Day tribute or something), so I wrote a piece about my Mom, the military wife, who organized and orchestrated 13 moves from the time I was born until I was about 9 years old. She and my Dad, however, had both grown up in Indiana, and we ended up settling back there when I was in the 5th grade. I grew up in a small town not far from Indianapolis, and after high school I attended Indiana University, where I met the WGH. Not long after we graduated we moved to Tennessee. That was 26 years ago, and though we've entertained the idea of moving "back home" several times over those 26 years, the WGH and I are pretty much settled in here.

There's an old joke, "What's the difference between a Yankee and a damn Yankee? Yankees go home." So by definition that makes me a damn Yankee.

I embrace the moniker. Because I am still a Yankee, and proud of it. Let's look at a few of the differences--and this is in no way a comprehensive or exclusive list, it's just a few observations I've made over the years.

1. We have different ways of speaking. The state flower of Indiana is a peony (pronounced PEE-uh-nee). In the South it's pronounced pee-OH-nee. What people in the North call a "burner", Southerners call an "eye". Northerners take pictures and take people to the grocery; in the South, pictures are made and people are carried.

2. We have different ideas about food. I drink my tea without sugar and like my cornbread sweet. Nothing called "greens" of any variety will ever pass these lips. And I hate okra. A barbecue in the North is the thing you grill on. In the South, barbecue is pulled pork smothered in sauce. (And most decidedly delicious, by the way.)

3. We drive differently. I discovered immediately upon arriving in the South that the only thing people don't do casually/slowly/leisurely is drive. We also give directions differently. In the North, if you asked someone how to get somewhere, you would receive instructions that included street names and cardinal directions. In the South, if you ask someone how to get somewhere, the directions would include going to the third red light and taking a left past the Krispy Kreme.

I could go on. For a very, very long time. But I think you get the general idea.

Note that, even taking the foregoing into consideration, I did say that the WGH and I feel fairly settled in the South. A friend I used to work with had a sign on her desk that read, "I wasn't born in the South, but I got here as fast as I could." I think that sums it up. With brilliance.

Tomorrow will be the last post of the JWC, excluding the "recap" summary I plan to do on Monday. I hope you'll join me in reflecting over what (and where) this past month has brought me. In the meantime, read a book. It's good for you.

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