I love the south, I love my state.
It took me a very long time to adjust to Arkansas after growing up in Juneau, Alaska.
The culture, climate, everything is different.
And there is so much about this area that I would like to see change.
And it took me at least 10 years to be able to see past the ignorant gay-hating hicks, the Bible-thumping hypocrites, the backwater racism, the poor economy, and the lack-luster educational system.
And what I saw was amazing.
1) The civil history of the south itself is so epic. So much grief and triumph in unlikely ways. So much pain and yet perseverance.
2) From an anthropological perspective the South is so fascinating. The people are amazingly complex and surprising. I think that the biggest misconception about Southern people is that since the majority of the south is poor and uneducated that everyone is stupid. Do not mistake Schooling for education. People down here are so innovative and industrious and have skills that we will need during the zombie apocalypse.
3) Culturally the south is totally Sheening. Yeah, I mean winning. From the last of the great oral traditions to the birth place of the Blues. From Faulkner to O’Conner no one weaves a better story than a southern creative. Tell me, what did Ohio ever do for an entire genre of Literature?
4) Food is better down here. I’m not just talking about soul food, though it is kind of amazing (but good lord, fattening!) but just in general. My parents get sweet corn grown by a member of their church every season and it is the best corn in the world. There is just a fusion of flavors down here that I haven’t found in other areas. And shit do people know how to bake! Also we have hens in our backyard. Laying eggs. Fresh eggs. With no hormones. Not saying that you can’t do that elsewhere, but I don’t think you can raise chickens in NYC.
5) Community. Okay this may seem controversial but just hear me out. I lived up north and I have plenty of friends other places, and there are good strong families and communities everywhere and there are shitty families everywhere too. But down south, the loyalty to one’s family and one’s community (though quite annoying sometimes) just seems wider spread. Of course, I have a love/hate relationship with mine because it means someone is always up in my business, but down here, it just seems like here people cast a wider net for the people they love.
6) Landscape. It is beautiful here and no one can argue against it. Even the trashiest towns have that old southern charm to them. Something about the constant of decay right next to the willful determination to move on and keep building.
7) DIY attitude. We are used to getting gipped by the government and being poor and made fun of. So people down south just do their own thing with what they got.
Conclusion (if you are still reading)
The south is a land of redemption. I don’t mean religion though I think that plays a part in it. Some people look at the South and see it for all of it’s ugly past and it’s backwards present. I see a place that is constantly struggling with who it will be. I see a land wrestling against itself and against what others say is important and trying desperately to find a way to reconcile its broken ugly parts to its soft rolling beauty and its rich future. I like a good underdog and the South is my favorite of all underdogs because it has both an inferiority complex and a aggressive will to push on.
But then again, I’m a sucker for a good paradox.