For those of you who haven't heard, my year-long senior project is on Southern Culture and women's role in it. Right now, we're in the phase where I feel like I am living, sleeping, breathing this material. I've learned so much just in the past couple of months alone.
The biggest part I think that I've gained out of this is just what being Southern means to me. It's something that I've always grown up with--my grandfather bought Coke stock in my name while I was still in the hospital, my dad's ancestors helped to settle DeKalb County, my mother's family has only ever been from Alabama. Being Southern has always just been who I am and I don't think that I've ever fully comprehended (is that a word?) how much my heritage has influenced me.
So lately, I've really come to terms with my connection to the South. It's messy and complicated, can feel like a total burden sometimes and can come with some wacky stereotypes. (For the record, yes, you can get married at 14 in Alabama. Also, it seems like the majority of the people drive without licenses and/or proper instruction.) But at the same time, it's beautiful. There's a quiet elegance about the South, particularly during the summer. If you happen to find yourself in a small town during one of those miserably humid days, where even the slightest breath of wind feels like heaven, it's like you can see the ghosts of every single inhabitant of that town meandering through the streets, just like you.
That's what the South is to me. It's shrouded in history and stories and heat that can feel overwhelming at times, but can also be comforting.
I think another thing that's been difficult for me has not only been dealing with my connection to the South, but my family's as well. I feel like my family puts a whole new spin on the word "multi-cultural". My sister's Chinese, my mother swears her taste buds are imported from India and my dad...just likes to try new things. I've never felt like we're the typical Southern family, if there is such a thing -- at least in my immediate family. We eat biscuits, green beans, chili and cornbread like they're going out of style, but there's never been that steel cable anchoring us to this area. My dad grew up in Atlanta, but has never really claimed it as his hometown. The city's changed so much since he lived there that it's not a home for him anymore. I feel like I've always searched for that link--wanted to feel it for him, because there are times when I've felt like I needed that connection, but it's never been there.
So lately, I've explored what my connection is, what it means for me. When I try to picture it, I envision my soul being buried somewhere, in the heart of the deep South and that thought feels like it completes me. I am a product of the South; red Georgia clay and brown grass and I don't think I'll ever be able to deny it.
It's time for bed...but y'all come back now.