Wednesday, June 03, 2009

Someone else knows

Tuesdays are good days for me; the kids have piano lessons – 30 minutes each, which means I have 90 minutes to myself. It’s the most uninterrupted time of my week. I run errands or just sit in the car and read. In silence. Blissful silence.

A few Tuesdays ago I was catching up on some magazines as I waited and picked up my copy of Good Housekeeping. Yes, I admit it; I read Good Housekeeping. No, it has not made me a better housekeeper. Pretty sure it would take more than a magazine to get this girl to cook gourmet meals or design my living room with beautiful décor for under $25 or even dust, but I enjoy thinking that I could do that. Then I realize someone out there is doing all that. I then make fun of that person for cleaning instead of having a life which means perhaps the magazine is not helping with my sanctification…

Anyway I was flipping through and the title of an essay caught my eye: "On Dogwoods and Daughters.” Here’s the first paragraph:
I don’t know which is stranger: that my azaleas bloom in June or that the soil anchoring their shallow roots is black, rich, and humusy. Having spent my childhood years in Atlanta where flowering begins in March and the earth is red and rusty, I still find these small details jarring. Even after twenty five springs north of the Mason Dixon line I am still not accustomed to this. Transplanting is funny business.

I was hooked. Reading further I found out the author was also transplanted from Atlanta to Michigan. And she, like I, is sad her children don’t know her roots:

I occasionally hear my kids slip in a “y’all” when calling out to their friends, but more often it’s “you guys.” Their A’s are flat as Redwing hockey ice. When they were toddlers, they’d say, “Daddy, help me with my pajamas.” and I would cringe. “Daddy” squeezed from their vocal cords as “Deeaddy”. Ditto “p’jeeamas.” My children sometimes sound like strangers to me. Where are their drawls? I taught them to speak, but their ears have found other accents to mime.

…It’s hard this passing on the sense of place. We can do the big stuff. Religion. Ethics. And I suppose that’s more important. But it’s the little things that make us who we are. That root us in place.”

Tears were streaming down my face at this point. I am not alone!

When I got home from piano lessons I emailed the author, Debra Darvick. I told her she’d written my story, that she wasn’t alone, that another Georgia girl was here, too. She wrote back the next day, thanking me for writing. She told me she still lives in Michigan, that her husband also works for GM and that she’d had a lot of response to the column. Apparently there are a lot of “transplanted sisters” here in Michigan.

How is this possible? Are we all in hiding? I felt like starting a group on Facebook: "If you’re from the South but live in Michigan now let’s have some sweet tea and chat!" I still might…

For now, though, knowing there’s at least one fellow transplant out there is helpful. That I’m not the only one longing for my children to know my Southern roots, to love sweet tea and grits and Waffle House. That someone else also wants her children to adore dogwoods and azaleas, Scarlett and Rhett and all things Gone With the Wind. That there’s another transplant who still loves Georgia even after being gone for 25 years. That we both, while loving our lives in our new towns, still consider Atlanta home.

I am not alone. And knowing that is enough.

Read her whole article here.