Growing up, I didn’t understand that southwestern Virginia was a little bit different. I simply knew it as the place where my dad was born and raised as well as the place I was growing up in. My mom is originally from New Jersey and she moved down here as a teenager. So, she had told me stories about how different live was there. However, it didn’t really sink-in until the past couple of years that I may have southern manners or something else that differentiates me from people in other areas of the country.
My first semester of college was out of state (North Carolina) at a private, liberal arts college. I didn’t think that going down the road a little over two hours would make much difference. However, it did. Granted, I didn’t consider the fact that the college was expanding and attracting students from all over. Nonetheless, I felt very much out of place at that first college. I didn’t feel skinny enough or rich enough to be attending. Interestingly enough, a girl once heard me speak a whole sentence and then asked where I was from because she had never heard anyone with my accent. It turns out she was from New York and she pointed out that I sounded different, even from those people from North Carolina.
Since I’ve started blogging and traveling more, I’ve come across other situations where I realized that my southern manners were unique. One of the biggies is the fact that I was raised to say m’am and sir. It’s not necessarily reserved for older folks. Rather, it’s a sign of respect to someone I don’t know (yet). So, I automatically revert back to it whenever someone I’ve just met asks me a question. One time, I had a woman flat-out tell me to stop it. Then, when I went to the beach this week, I said it to a woman who was younger than me. She told me that I didn’t have to say that because I was older than her.
Between having southern manners and talking differently, I’ve really come to realize just how different southwestern Virginia is. We don’t like the hustle and bustle of the city. We tend to be quieter in a large group (however, you get us around our best friends or family and all bets are off). We value family ties. We automatically reach out to help someone when there’s a death in the family (I’ve heard that it’s uncommon to bring food to a grieving family, but we do this whenever someone dies here).
I’m not saying southwestern VA is perfect. In fact, there’s lots wrong with (it can be boring here and everyone knows your business). I just think it’s interesting to just now realize how different the place I call home is. What do you think? Am I different from you in any of these ways?