Sunday, January 23, 2011

Going Home



I haven’t been able to write about the houses because I’m afraid I’ll jinx myself. I guess I’m really superstitious. I avoid walking under ladders and I do knock on wood, using my head if there’s no available oak or pine. But now it looks like everything’s going to go through so I think I’m safe. Knock wood.

I’d been out of Jersey for seven years but it took my mother dying for me to get homesick. That’s the reason I’m going back. People assume it’s because of work. It’s not, though I expect it to be better up there. I miss my peeps.

And I don’t feel welcome here. I’m a Yankee.

At first I was in denial. I even wrote a story about it, Yankees and White Lies. But once I started analyzing my feelings about why I had this sudden urge to get out of here like the room was on fire (was this just grief?), I realized that I was not imagining being disliked and sometimes discriminated against by the people who didn’t know me and I was tired of it! I’m great! I want to be where people appreciate me and even if we are different, even if we have a difference of opinion, even if we vote differently (egad!), we can still be friends. We can still tolerate each other.

The fact is, I don’t feel safe here. Admittedly, part of it is because of what we went through with the Evils. But the other part is because I am different. And that’s a no-go in the south. I warned Kelly not to tell anyone that we go to the Unitarian church—they won’t like it down here and I didn’t want her to start getting picked on. I was afraid to put a bumper sticker for Obama on my truck—afraid the truck would get keyed the next time I was in Walmart. I hesitate to admit I think gays should be able to get married just like everyone else.

I was even told that my grandchildren will never belong here. A friend of mine informed me that if Kelly has children, they will never be considered “from here,” even if they are born here, because their grandparents are from the wrong side of the Mason Dixon Line. Even when I pointed out that her ancestors were from Europe—that was different—she made sure I knew that my future grandchildren would never belong. I’m a Yankee and all my kin, forty years from now, fifty years from now, doesn’t matter, will be Yankees. This was my friend.

So I’m going home to a place that, ironically, has a reputation for mean people but where I’ve never been assaulted, robbed, vandalized, harassed, or had my dogs poisoned like what happened in Ferrum, and where I’ve never paid a higher price than what someone else paid because of the way I speak, like what happens here all the time. When they hear my accent and figure out where I’m from, they either charge me higher prices than my neighbor because they don’t like me or because they think I’ve got money. Either way, I get ripped off left and right down here.

Sometimes I think I was meant to be here for a while so I can truly understand what black people go through when they complain they were stopped for walking down the road or couldn’t get a job simply because they were black. I used to think, “Ah, get over it. Stop being paranoid.” Now I’m rethinking the matter. Now I’ve got a taste of it and I know what they’re talking about. Only they can’t change their skin and I can go home.

To be clear, I am not saying that everyone is bad down here. Just like all Yankees are not bad, but some are, all southerners are not bad. I’ve met some wonderful people—Becky and Claudia the writers, my other writer friends and blog buddies, too many to mention, some nice horse people, my German girlfriend Tanja, the nice folks who own Blair’s store, Effie, Olivia, Dee-Dee my seamstress, George my farrier, the Johnsons—I could go on and on. But best of all my neighbors, Pearl and Eldon. They have been a bright spot in my life, teaching me how to garden, bringing me pies, bringing Kelly to Dairy Queen and choir, taking care of my animals when we had to go to New Jersey because my mother was sick—they’ve been the closest thing to family that I have here. I can’t even talk to them about moving because Pearl and I start crying. I’m really going to miss them.

But I am busting with excitement because I am going home. We sold this farm and we bought another one. You won’t believe how we did it all and what we are up against next. It is crazy with a capital C. And now that it looks like it’s all going through, knock wood, I’m going to catch you up.

29 comments:

Cynda said...

You know your always welcome in my book! I wish I would have known you sold the farm so fast because Henry's cousin is looking for a nice farm like that. I will be sorry to see you go but I know how happy you will be by your family.

Beth said...

Oh my goodness, Debi, is THAT your new house at the top? It's gorgeous! I can't wait to hear the story. I know you must be insanely busy right now, but don't make us wait too long to hear it, okay?

One thing I did want to say was that I'm a lifelong Southerner, but I faced some of the same things after we moved to the mountains. The area where we live now is mostly folks who've lived here for generations, and some of them don't take kindly to "outsiders." Some of them won't even say "Hey" to me when I see them at the post office. But, as you say, there are plenty of nice folks, too, so I just try to ignore the rude ones. But I don't blame you a bit for wanting to go back home---I think I would feel the same way. I just wish I had some sense of "home." We moved around so much, I've never known where "home" is. I think we're still looking for it. :-)

Tanya said...

isn't it crazy, this yankee thing? i'm from ca originally, then we spent a couple of years in missouri, then georgia and now here. i was shocked in ga to see how they still relive the whole north/south thing then once my neighbors son told my daughter she's a yankee....and we're from ca, nothing to do with the war lol...sad they don't even know their geography! anyways, best of luck to you on your new journey and i can't wait to read about all your adventures with that great old house!!!

Chris said...

Yeah, I'll never be from here even though I was technically born south of the Mason Dixon line. Fortunately here in Floyd, there are many outsiders. I can sympathize with your feelings and hope you've found your forever home. Do catch us up, it sounds exciting.

Rural Rambler said...

Debi I am sooo happy you are going home!! I can't wait to hear/read the story. It was meant to be to have worked out in this econonmy so quickly.

CountryDew said...

I think ostracizing people is a way of life around here; people can find any reason to do that, and I am sorry you landed amongst a nest of vipers. Amittedly, finding yourself in a snake nest is easy enough to do. My family goes back generations but my political inclinations have left me feeling like I don't fit in. It's tough to find like-minded folk but they are here. I wish you much luck in your new adventure and I'm glad I was able to meet you in person!

Anonymous said...

Hey.. don't feel too bad..lol.. There are lots of small communities north and south, east and west that consider people outsiders if they are not "from" there. My husband is from a small town on the chesapeake bay.. I won't ever be from there..lol. My dad was military.. so I will NEVER be from anywhere.. my parents are both from the north.. I was born in DC.. but since I moved all my life.. became a little expert at blending in with my surroundings.. i doubt anyone who didn't know my history would think I was a born/bred southerner..lol.

Grey Horse Matters said...

So glad to hear you're coming back "home". I've traveled all over the country by car and I've got to say the southerners were a little rude to us Yankees. We had to take my son to a doctor down there because of his asthma on one road trip and he actually came out into the waiting room and asked the clients if he should charge us more. A simple thumbs up or down did it and we paid more. I was a little shocked by this behavior.

I always felt better after I crossed the Jersey line and headed back into N.Y. Everybody might not be friendly and they can be rude but at least you expect it and know what you've got to look out for. Good luck in your new home!(knock wood,I'm superstitious too)

Sweet Virginia Breeze said...

Debi, I am so sorry you ran into a bunch of rude southerners. My family goes way back in this part of Virginia, but I don't consider myself better than anyone else. In fact, I prefer people from other parts of the country and with different backgrounds. I voted for Obama, I'm for gay rights and I'm for stricter gun control. So not all southerners are the same.
I know you are excited to be going home. There is never any place better than home. I'll be waiting for the story of how you found your new farm.

Leonora said...

Congratulations on selling your place and finding another "back home". I wish you and your family all the best! Looking forward to hearing your stories of what the future brings and I pray it's all good : )

Leonora said...

Congratulations on selling your place and finding another "back home". Looking forward to hearing stories of what the future brings and I pray it's all good : )

Cape Coop said...

You know, I could easily say to you "Ignore the negative and bloom where you're planted!" because that is what I have done my entire life- and I've been an outsider in my own home! But, I understand the pull of the familiar, and the fact that hate and discrimination and being surrounded by willful ignorance can wear a person down. Besides, you're moving close to ME, I'll have a new friend with similar leanings- I'm glad that you've tired of those Southern neighbors of yours who have been so hateful and ornery and just plain DUMB!

Greener Pastures--A City Girl Goes Country said...

Oh my goodness, Grey Horse, did that really happen? It wasn't a joke?

I don't think I put this in the story, but Pearl has actually called service providers for me because of my Yankee accent. This was HER idea. So I'd get a fair price.

But of course, there's good and bad in every place. You just have to figure out what's right for you.

Greener Pastures--A City Girl Goes Country said...

Grey Horse, one other thing you said--"I always felt better after I crossed the Jersey line and headed back into N.Y. Everybody might not be friendly and they can be rude but at least you expect it and know what you've got to look out for."

That's exactly how I feel when I cross over into Jersey. I feel suddenly safer. Which is ironic because Jersey has a reputation for having mean people. Kurt and I ALWAYS talk about how up in Jersey, at least we KNOW who likes us and who doesn't like us because they'll come right out and tell you, but down here, I am never sure and so I'm always paranoid and I don't know who I can trust. (I guess this is partly due to what happened with the Evils and even some of the "authority figures" put me in danger.) Kurt, who is out in the work world and sees a lot of people, says that I wouldn't believe how sweetly some people talk to each other and then the minute one of them walks away, the other starts badmouthing him. That happens now and then in Jersey, but it's more likely that if they don't like you, you will know it! And that's why I feel safer up in the place that has a reputation for the mean people. Because I know who is my friend and I know who is my enemy. And this is why I'm not sure if my house is really sold or not because I don't trust my buyer.

Grey Horse Matters said...

Well I hope your house is really sold. And yes it really did happen to us in Georgia. To be fair though we had some car trouble once in Alabama and I can honestly say they were the friendliest people and treated us fairly. So there's good and bad wherever you are. It's not fair of me to make a blanket statement about all southerners. I know there are good people all over but I do feel like we were treated differently on our trips south. Of course, things might have changed a lot by now, this was 20 yrs. ago or thereabouts. Good luck with your house and move.

colleen said...

I'm glad I checked in. I lost track of you when I changed my blog over. Being a Yankee who has lived her for nearly 25 years, I do understand and there is a point where moving back is not an option. Like after your kids have kids here. I think I made the transition because I had many friends in Floyd who were also transplants but it always comes at a price. I am rooted in Mass. and that never goes away.

Will you still blog? Wishing you all the best!

Sweetflutterbys3 said...

Oh Debi, good for you! I know you have been homesick for a while. You know I completely understand the feeling, though I go south instead of north! But I know what you mean about how people can be. I experienced those same things here in Pittsburgh and after 30 years, I still feel like an outsider. There are lots of crazies here and we have dealt with our share of them, to be sure. Several nests of vipers we've had to deal with has given me a whole new set of skills in dealing with the law!

I am so happy you get to go home. That is a feeling like no other!

Sloan said...

If you don't trust your buyer, what about the back up buyer you had? Can you take a back up offer? Are you in contract?

I'd much rather know where I stand with someone. What you're describing is the same reason why I wasn't fond of Ga.

Greener Pastures--A City Girl Goes Country said...

Grey Horse, I appreciate knowing I'm not alone in what I've felt and I'm not crazy! lol

Sweet Virginia, I know all southerners are not the same. Look at Pearl! And I think you're great.

Colleen, it might have helped if I moved to a place like Floyd where I felt like I was on the same wavelength with some people.

Sweetflutterbys, you'll get there.

Sloan, I am in contract but we don't have a mortgage commitment yet. I've been telling anyone who is interested in the place to come and see it anyway, just in case the deal doesn't go through. They get scared though, when they hear we're in contract. I'm trying to keep them interested...

Thanks everyone! I feel so much better sharing it all with you.

Greener Pastures--A City Girl Goes Country said...

Colleen, oops, I forgot to say. Yes, I'll still blog. I'm a writer no matter where I live and I can't help myself. Maybe I'll call it "City Girl Goes Country and Then Goes City Again," lol.

Gilly said...

Hops you have good luck in your change of address! Sounds like you are really happy to be going north again!

Christina said...

This was a very interesting post. I went back and read your Yankee post too. I grew up in TX OK and LA. I have always had a love/hate relationship with it. The ignornance can be bad the kindness can be overwhelming. I throw the word yankee around myself quite often but never mean it in a hurtful way. Its just a way to describe people from the north. I hate the way movies and tv make southerners sound like idiots. It works my nerves. I have always been different than my southern roots. I say put that Obama sticker on your car, be proud of being a Unitarian member and if anyone has a problem get southern real quick and tell them where to get off or just have them give me a call. I will chat it up with them. I was born in CA and my dad was military. I was not southern born but will always be a southerner in my heart. Where home calls us, we should go. I hope you will be very happy and I wish you many blessings. And damn straight! My best friend is gay and I think nobody has the right to tell any consenting adult that they cant marry another consenting adult or serve our country either. Shoot, I wish you could live next door to me. We could offend people together.

Greener Pastures--A City Girl Goes Country said...

Thank you Gilly.

Christina, yes! That's exactly how I'd describe it--a love hate relationship. I totally agree--the ignorance can be very bad but the kindness can be overwhelming. You hit the nail on the head. Oklahoma. Whew. When we were living there, someone actually called Kurt a "F-ing Yankee" because he sold us defective tires and he was mad when Kurt brought them back. We were shocked is an understatement. That was the first time we heard of it. And it took us a few years until we realized that wasn't a fluke, how some people feel.

If you and I lived next door, we'd be great friends.

Greener Pastures--A City Girl Goes Country said...

Oh, and then to be fair, I need to add, when we were in Oklahoma, we found the best truck mechanic in the world. We tried to get him to come with us to Virginia but no go.

Laughing Orca Ranch said...

After living in South Carolina, on the North Carolina border for 7 years, I can sympathize. I never fit in, and even when I was invited to so many parties and thought, wow! They must like me! I was soon realizing that the parties I was invited to were only to buy stuff, like candles, lingerie, tupperware, pampered chef, etc. And when I didn't order stuff, I stopped getting invited.

My family were always considered outsiders. It wasn't until we started homeschooling that we finally found our friends, probably because most of them weren't from the south. lol!

Oh, and I agree about the being ripped off stuff, too. bah!

Sounds like you're excited about going home again.
Home to me was Maryland, I suppose, but being a military brat, I prefer to say "Bloom Where You're Planted", and I'm planted in New Mexico, and could not be happier. It's where my heart is.

Best wishes for your upcoming move. I hope it goes smoothly.

~Lisa

Laughing Orca Ranch said...

Oh! And I forgot to add that while we were living in South Carolina I would get rude comments that I was a Yankee because I lived in Maryland for a few years when I was a child.....but you know what? I was born in TEXAS, and am actually more southern than they are! boo!

One thing I truly don't miss is that sickly sweet tea and the even sicklier-sweet two-faced southerner women who are skilled at saying things like, "Bless her heart" out one side of their mouth, while saying "but she is just a dumb Yankee" out the other.

~Lisa

Greener Pastures--A City Girl Goes Country said...

Lisa, you know what I'm talking about. I'm not crazy! I'm not crazy!

I'm glad you commented because I've been trying to read your blog but it's saying I have to be invited! What gives?

Jeff said...

I suppose I'm a "northerner", even though I was born in Miami. Because my parents were from Indiana. I have to say that quite a few years ago, I traveled through New England and I thought those people were some of the most inbred and rude people I've ever encountered. I'll never go back to New England. So there! I need to respond to your e-mail! You have quite an adventure ahead, that's for sure!!

Greener Pastures--A City Girl Goes Country said...

They're probably cranky because it's so cold up there Jeff, lol.

Yeah, adventure is putting it mildly. I'm getting ready to put an update on.