Tuesday, March 8, 2011
Southern is as Southern Does
My dog, Poodar, nestles at my feet.
I turn on the television and wait several seconds for a picture to emerge. When it does, there's Sally Field, looking older than her years and Tom Hanks looking trim and clean shaven. Forrest Gump.
"I'm home, Mama," Forrest says, making his way up the front porch steps.
"I know ya are, Forrest," Mama says, taking his face in her hands. Then she turns and calls to the maid, "Louise!"
In the background, a long drive makes a path to a stone entryway followed by two long rows of parallel live oaks. It is quite the landscape. And quite the scene.
When my mother was alive, and after a long period of having not seen me, she would call and say, "When are you coming home?"
I'd tease and say, "Why, Mother, I am home."
Then she would say, "You know what I mean."
To Mother, her house would always be my home.
When I was a young girl, I dreamed of getting away from Small Town America (what was I thinking?). Then I left. I went first to a college town. I felt all grown up but I was only fifteen minutes from my childhood. Then I went to one of the five largest cities in Georgia. I learned to drive in what, at the time, I thought was maniacal traffic (I had not yet moved to Orlando nor had I navigated the treacherous fast lanes of Atlanta). I found out quickly that in a city of this size you will not know everyone and everyone will not know you. Meaning: they won't know your business either. That has both good and bad attached to it.
After sixteen years, my family and I moved to Orlando, Florida. Now that was an experience. Family and friends from back home would say to me, "Well, at least you still in live in the South." to which I would reply, "Noooo...you have to go North to get South of here."
Mother cried, of course. I was another two hours farther away than I had been. May as well have been on the moon or some other distant galaxy. I promised to come more often, but I didn't, which of course I now highly regret. I got bogged down with making a house a home, people a family, life worth living.
Most Floridians have a certain style when it comes to house plans. The homes have that "Florida" look (amazingly enough), which means "an open floor plan." Rarely do you see the grand Colonial and Antebellum styles one would find in Georgia, Alabama, Mississippi, Louisiana, and the Carolinas...hough it does happen. And, most Floridians have a certain style when it comes to furnishings. But when you come into my home, there's no doubt where I'm from. Antique furniture and bric-a-brac blended with newer pieces declare my heritage. Victorian inheritances meet Baer's Home Furnishings.
Being Southern is more than just about being born in the South-Eastern United States. It's a state of mind. It's a history and a future. It's a way of life. Complicated at times but we have no problem understanding it. It's about sipping Mint Juleps on the veranda and walking the dusty stretch of a country road.Swimming in a creek, fishing on a lake, and having high tea at the Ritz Carlton. It's your fanny frozen to the bleachers in the wintertime and fanning yourself with whatever you can find, sitting in the same place in the summertime, just watching a different game.
It's Gone With the Wind and Tobacco Road.
Which brings me to what this is all about. This blog is about all things Southern. A place where I can talk about my Southern heritage and you can share a little about yourself too. A place where I can discuss my work of Southern Fiction (for Baker/Revell) and you can share your grandma's recipe for Sweet Potato Pie.
Come on, now. Welcome to Eva Marie Everson's Southern Voice.