I have a friend who coaches me in the Unwritten Rules of the South. We’re still in the beginning stages, but I daresay she has helped me immensely in my quest to become an insider in one of the remaining places where rules of conduct still matter. I would share some of these tips with you, but I have taken a vow that these rules shall never be typed, handwritten, published, or put out on the worldwide web. At least not by me. I will take them to my grave (along with my newly-acquired ratio for the perfect sweet tea).
My friend has advised me to downplay my Yankee upbringing (although I grew up just barely south of the Mason Dixon Line) and my recent liaison with the somewhat quirky state of California. Rather, I am to highlight the fact that half of my family tree has roots that grew deep and true in Southern soil. If anyone doubts that, my last two weekends spent with cousins (first going to Atlanta and then having Knoxville family come here) should prove my pedigree. Everyone in the South is someone’s cousin, and I have my share of them.
When Steve and I chose our town, we never realized how close we’d be to some of those roots. I knew my grandmother was raised in nearby Charlotte, but I did not know that her mother grew up in a small town just to our south and her father to our west. I see some of my family surnames on local businesses, street signs, and high schools. My great-grandfather died in our very own town and I have a distant cousin living a few streets over. All of this came as a surprise, and more confirmation of the rightness of our choice of locale, after we had settled in. To paraphrase John Denver, I’ve come home to a place I’d never been before.