I’ve been in North Carolina now for less than twenty fours hours, and already it’s made me happy.
Several years ago I made my first trip to the States and I fell in love – and I mean head over heels, dopey eyed, gushing sort of love – with it. I don’t think I would have fallen in love with New York or Los Angeles in the way I fell in love with Tennessee, because it wasn’t just the USA I fell in love with; it was the South.
My first experience of the South was everything I thought it would be, and a little bit more besides. I learned that Southern hospitality actually is a real thing and that people actually mean it when they wish you a good day. Food really is for the soul and there actually is a charm to the place that I, for one, find hard to resist.
Like any place, it isn’t perfect. It can be oppressively hot at times, and I’m not naive enough to ignore the fact that some views and opinions aren’t a little difficult for a British alien like me to get along with. And I mean who prefers Hershey’s over Cadburys?! But if the South has…I don’t really know what to call them… Drawbacks? Flaws? Whatever you want to call them, and however many you choose to count, there is a beauty I still love.
I fell in love with the melody of people’s voices here, the slow and careful way they speak that makes every word a perfectly pitched note in a symphony of drawn out vowels and merged words. I fell in love with the majestic architecture, the old-fashioned feel of places and people. I fell in love with ranches and wide roads and TV commercials for medicines that list every fatal side effect. I fell in love with sweet tea.
This is the first time I’ve been back to the South since I first discovered it. I have plenty more of it to discover, I know. But this time it’s not a holiday; it’s going to be home.
No ranch yet, but everything else is here. Already I could listen to the local people talk all day and never tire of hearing ‘y’all’. I still love the TV commercials. The roads are wide and the buildings beautiful. But most importantly, the sweet tea is every thing I remembered. I’ve already had four glasses, but it is just the first day…