Monday, June 11, 2012

20 Things About Living in Tennessee for 20 years

Then, 1992
Now, 2012

Twenty years ago today, on June 11, 1992, I arrived in Tennessee with my blue Toyota Tercel packed to the brim with all my belongings.  I had finished my school-year contract in Michigan, visited friends and family in Minnesota (my growing up place), and drove across the country to live near 'my friend, Kip.'

Though I had always longed to move where it was warm and live somewhere else,  I never imagined I'd live in Tennessee. And, lo and behold, it's apparently been exciting enough since twenty years later I'm still here with no plans of moving in sight.

In honor of this milestone I've made a list! No particular order or importance -- mostly it's about the contrast of Tennessee living versus Minnesota living. 

Twenty Things I've Learned During Twenty Years In Tennessee. 

Enjoy the randomness!

1. I like ice tea, or sweet tea as they call it around here. Yummy! (This is due, of course, to the great amount of sugar that's in it.)

2. I also discovered that I like cornbread. Who knew that it could be moist and sweet and tasty?! Well, I guess Southerners did. We even make it ourselves now;  it is a hubby specialty around here. He asked a cook in a small meat-n-three (another Southern entity) for the recipe. Now, he wrangles up a pretty mean cornbread in our cast iron skillet.

3. Children here are expected to say 'Yes ma'am' and 'Yes sir' to their 'Mommy' and 'Daddy' for the rest of thier lives. I have not as fully embraced this concept as the ice tea and cornbread. So you just know those Southerners are 'blessing my children's hearts' because they're sweet-n-all but they just don't say 'yes ma'am' and 'yes sir' nearly often enough..

4. Opening doors is much less complicated in the South. Men open the doors.

I no longer wonder who will open the door when we both get there. I know exactly who will open the door. The man. It's lovely. I'm no longer outraged; I'm honored. I like it.

5. Oh, glorious spring, I had no idea how beautiful you could be. The gradual awakening of color that starts with the daffodils in March and ends with the Magnolias in May. Spring comes early and lasts long. This alone can make me totally smitten with the South (not to mention that I don't deal too much with allergies which seem develop for everybody once they move here. )

6. Below zero temps are not the only elements that make winters challenging -- damp and cold with gray skies for endless days have their own set of challenges.

7. They can cancel school based on the prediction of snow. Yet, it took about 15 years of living here before I ever went sledding in Tennessee.

8. Due to this tendency, I have had more days off work due to snow days in Tennessee than school days than I had in all my schooling years. Then, there's the grocery store when they've predicted snow. I just needed to do my regular shopping. Everyone else (it's always someone else, isn't it?) are there getting milk and bread as if we're about to be snowed in for days and days. (But remember that it took 15 years before there was enough snow to sled upon!?!)

9. We used to laugh at how everyone stayed home when it snowed. Now, we do, too. Especially after the ice storm where hubby's car was stranded on the side of the road. Then, he proceeded to walked 10 miles on the deserted ice.

10. The mosquitoes are smaller here and the snakes are larger. People will say the bugs are bad tonight. And I think, really? Thankfully I've only seen those really big snakes in pictures.

11. Not only is the spring and the fall colorful in the South, the language is as well. Up north we'll say, "Boy, he's deaf." Down here, they say, "He's deaf as a post." Up north, they'd say, "You're really bugging me." Down here, they say, "You're gettin' on my last red hot nerve."

12. People besides your own folk will call you honey, sweetie, and darling.

13. When you speak too fast for the Southern natives , they might just tell you that "the first thing you can do missy is to slow down." Then, you might just might need to transfer them to someone who speaks Southern. Yet, ten years later your children -- your very own children born of Mid-west parents just might not be able to understand a Minnesotan because "they talk too fast." Oh, the injustice of it all!

14. In Middle Tennesssee as we drive around town, we can play the license plate game and see all of the states. When we drive home to Minnesota, especially in the wintertime, the plates say Minnesota.  This exemplifies how Tennessee is more of a melting pot and how close so many more states are to it!

15. It took us a long time to meet someone who was actually born in here in this city in Tennessee and had family here. Initially we met mostly transplants.(See number 14 about the license plates).

16. I discovered that people from Minnesota really do have an accent.

17. I moved from the land of 10, 000 lakes to the land of rivers (and only one natural lake).

18. The Civil War is a big deal around here, which some call the War of Northern Aggression. There are reenactments and many historical sites. It's interesting to live among people who have a different perpsective. I've also learned who was the blue  and who was the gray.

19. Nine hundred miles is far enough to enjoy different weather but too far to be there for enough family celebrations or just being there in times of trouble.

20. The biggest thing that I have learned in the twenty years of living in the South. Is that a woman can live somewhere long enough to have more than one home. I have my growing up home that influenced me greatly. And now I have the growing up home of my children. I also long for a home that is not my own -- and I place that I haven't been yet.

Home really is where you hang your heart and my heart is divided in more than one place. One day I will go to the place that I will be at home even though I haven't ever been there. It won't feel strange and foreign like Tennessee did when I first arrived. I won't feel as if I no longer fit when I go back as I've changed some due to where I live. One day we'll be home, to that welcoming place that I have never been.

How about you? Do you have any interesting stories and impressions of where you live?

Linking with Jen at SDG Sisterhood.


  1. Love it! Next month I will have lived in TN for 25 years. Amazing! I will have lived here longer than I lived in my hometown.

    I have to confess that my ears adapted to the Slow Southern Drawl many years ago. I get frustrated with fast talkers.

    I still laugh when someone says, "I'll carry you over to the store." Translated: I'll be happy to give you a ride. LOL

  2. This was fun to read! But yes, I agree that our forever home will be like nothing like we've ever seen before (and of course, like all of the homes we've ever known).

  3. You look the same!!!! I have wholeheartedly embraced the South as well. I even say "I reckon" "I'm fixing to" and "I may could" even though, in theory, it is like nails to a chalkboard for my teacher-grammar :)

    1. Thanks, Gaby! Isn't interesting what we can embrace in new situations!

  4. What a fun list to read about. I have never been to TN. :) I have lived in PA all my life! I enjoyed all those snippets you shared!

    Have a lovely rest of the week!

    1. I have only driven through PA when I was young. We have friends there now so we hope to make a visit up to them. Thanks for stopping & commenting.

  5. Very cute.:) I moved from California to Ohio seven years ago, at the age of 39. The color in spring and fall is amazing! This is a much better place to raise children. So much more natural world for them to study and enjoy. We always miss the mountains, of course. But here you don't have to drive to experience the beauty of the natural world. Southern CA is so commercialized. So developed. Here, the natural world is your own backyard.

    1. How interesting! I wouldn't have thought that Ohio would be more colorful than California. But it makes sense. I love the diversity that we can find within our own country. It's amazing.

  6. How fun! I've visited Tennessee and loved it. Didn't drink the sweet tea -- no sugar, no sweetener for me. My grandchildren call it Mawmaw's yucky tea.

  7. This made me laugh, I'm a southern that's been recently transplanted to the Midwest! I love it here too. I miss my sweet too, so I make it often, now it feels like a special treat:)
    People get a kick out of our southern accents, they love to hear us talk. The people are friendly here, some more friendly than down there. I really don't miss the humidity though...or the snakes.


Thanks for being part of the conversation...I love hearing from you. Kathleen

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