Around a year ago, my wife and I moved from the Pacific Northwest (Oregon) to the Deep South (South Carolina). As you can imagine, it has been a pretty big transition and a really exciting adventure. People are often intrigued over what it is like to live in such extreme parts of the Country and constantly wondering how Anna and I are adjusting to it. In my experience, the contrasts are subtle but still significant. The contrasts have also really pointed out a lot about people to me. Oregon and South Carolina have one huge thing in common, they are filled with people. I am learning that these people have much more in common than they realize. But sometimes, even the most subtle differences can make us feel thousands of miles apart. Here are a few differences I have found interesting thus far:
1. Ma’am and sir. Especially children and teenagers automatically call Anna and I ma’am and sir. We laugh (not in a mean way) but we just don’t know how to respond to it! Even after a year, it is still super weird every time it happens! It is also the worst thing in the world to have someone who works a job that society deems lowly (like a janitor or fast food worker) call me “sir” or “boss.” I mean, it’s polite and all but seriously, I’m 28 not 70. Nobody who is 60+ years in age should ever call me boss just because they work behind a counter. My name is Scott:)
Speaking of politeness, the South is so hospitable and polite that at first it is far more difficult to tell when people are insulting you-or talking down to you. Now that I’ve lived here for a little over a year I pick it up more when people say mean things in a nice way to others… like “Bless your heart” or “Oh, I must not have said that clear enough for you.” I’ve noticed that Southern hospitality is amazing and real, but it only goes so far. From what I’ve gathered (over this last year especially), it seems that great parenting, healthy community and personality result in a nice person-not being from a specific part of the country.
2. Weather. There is an old saying in South Carolina. It goes something along the lines of this: There is just a screen door between Columbia and Hell. I believe it, too-haha. Humidity at 100% is nothing short of painful. It’s hard to breathe, stay dry, walk or even exist for that matter. They say you get used to it… false, you just learn to not go outside. Believe it or not, I get most of my reading done in the summer! That is one big thing I miss about summers in the Northwest, being outside enjoying the mild summers.
3. The difference between genuinely cool and trendy. Trends seem to change quickly and they are so fickle. I’ve learned that there is a big difference between having an attractive personality and being trendy. The Portland area is filled with such a “diverse people.” But they all seems to follow trends. Whether it’s organic food, nature, local art, or simply certain parts of town it can all be hard to keep up with because it keeps changing. The Hawthorne area was a rough part of town growing up, now it’s virtually a tourist attraction. One thing I noticed after not being there for over a full year, was that I had missed out on some of the fashion changes and new cool restaurants and coffee shops that are always popping up. Everyone had moved on from the old places it seemed. Its a great area, but its filled with people who are all at very pivotal points in their lives, as they all change and grow, so the town does too. It has really caused me to think more deeply about community. Adults and even senior citizens are needed because there is a certain consistency and stability that often comes with them.
The greatest thing about moving so far from home is how much you learn about the world and about yourself. If you want some perspective on life-leave everything you know behind and go adventure! I’ve learned not to identify myself by where I am from. Where I am from is a part of me, but nobody can be reduced to a geographical location.