Forever a northerner

Michael Boylan's picture

From time to time, I get called a Yankee. It’s done mostly in a joking manner and the person calling me that isn’t thinking about my deep hatred for the baseball team with the same name. The word typically comes up when something truly southern comes up in conversation.

Southerner: I think I drink too much sweet tea.
Me: So just stop drinking it.
Southerner: I can’t. I’m southern. You wouldn’t understand, you’re a Yankee.

I have lived in the south since November of 1992. I moved here when I was 17, so in November of 2009, I will have spent half of my life here. I suppose you have to be southern by birth to be considered a southerner, but I’m not planning on going anywhere anytime soon and most likely will never move back up north (can’t stand the cold and don’t want to shovel snow) so when it reaches 20 years, 30 years, etc., will I still be a Yankee?

And just what exactly does that mean? Does it mean I’ll never understand “Gone With the Wind” or really appreciate Stone Mountain, grits and country music? I love it down here - from the pollen-coated springs to the 65 degree days in January. I like the food, the people, the affordable housing, Georgia football, easy access to the city (daily commuters may not think so, but trust me - just try going to Boston some rush hour), etc. Sure, I’ll never call the Civil War the War of Northern Aggression, nor will I mark Confederate Memorial Day with anything more than a shrug, but those days are long gone for the south I know. So are the days of segregated schools, parks, water fountains, etc. I know it happened and it wasn’t a good time, but it isn’t synonymous with the south for me.

With so many transplants around here, I just wonder if they feel that they will always be a midwesterner or a Yankee, or if they slowly get more southern over time.

I mean, it didn’t take me long to shed “you guys” and adopt “ya’ll.” Nor did it take long to learn the “Go Dawgs, Sic’ em” cheer and I learned to hate Gators even faster. I am starting to think that eventually we will all just be Americans - blended by relocations to other regions. Imagine a world where people everywhere will call Cokes - pop, tonic or soda and others won’t get confused or angry. It will be a world where you won’t have to ask for iced tea when you want a sweet tea up north and people everywhere will say ya’ll, because it is just more economic, fair and gender neutral.

It will be a world where my children - Southerners by birth - won’t have to uncomfortably ponder their natures when Georgia natives comment that they don’t sound like they are from around here. They will be a part of a large generation of new southerners, born in the area to parents who were transplanted here in their adolescence. Get ready for it, that time is coming. It is here already. Revel in the unity. The items in the melting pot just get meltier every day. It will be a good place - a fun place - full of people with mixed traditions and respect for all sorts of regional pecadilloes.

For those who want to keep their south untainted, I guess Delta is ready when you are.

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Submitted by cats119 on Fri, 03/21/2008 - 12:40pm.

I moved to the Atlanta area in 1979 from Chicago. For almost 30 years I have been saying "No, I am not a Yankee, I was a midwesterner" and folks are still not buying it. I have to say that I am also very assimilated to the southern way of life - swooning over good barbecue and brunswick stew, taking sweet tea intraveneously and cheering for all sports teams Georgia related. I am told when I go home to visit my mother in Chicago that I "sound like a hick" because of the slightly southern accent and vocabulary I have picked up over the years. But I still get cut off in mid-sentence frequently by born and raised southerners with the comment "You ain't from around here, are ya?" So, if you love the south like I do, you just accept the fact that you will never be a "real" southerner, no matter how long you are here to those who say "The North may have won the battle, but the war rages on" punctuated with an ear-piercing Rebel yell. So I am a proud "midwesterner" living in a strange but wonderful land. And I wouldnt trade it for the world.

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