April 2018

Monday, July 5, 2010

Summer #8: I heart grits.

Summer #8: Finally, the month of Junuary here in Seattle has passed, so maybe we can get on to our beautiful Northwest summer. Though Seattle feels like home to me, I have not yet adjusted to cold and cloudy April-May-June weather. As a Southerner, I know that June should be in the 90s, both in terms of temperature and humidity.

Growing up in the South, from time to time someone would say to me, "You don't seem like a Southerner." Maybe that was code for, "You seem like a lesbian," but I never seemed like a Southerner to myself either. In my advancing age, though, I recognize my Southernness. I heart grits. I love a good story and know that hyperbole, more than precision, reveals a narative's truth. My favorite places are the white sandy beaches and blue-green waters of the North Carolina coast. I have a healthy respect for lightening and do not shower or talk on the phone during a thunderstorm, like some fools here in the Northwest do. I love the banjo in bluegrass music and feel at home in a church. Steel magnolias, strong Southern women, are my role models. In the Southern woods, I am aware of the dangers of tics and copperheads.

Like many of my immigrant students, I have two homes. I am a Southerner, but I am a Northwesterner, too. Years ago, at an education conference, a Boston speaker stopped to comment on my fleece and Birkenstocks: "You're dressed like a stereotype, aren't you?" this bow-tied, round-eyed glasses Yankee said to me. I laughed at the irony of it. I suspect he interpreted my laughter as an acknowledgement of how clever and observant he was. I dress like a Northwesterner. I eat my tofu and organic Spinach. I march for immigrant rights, Martin Luther King and gay pride. I protest war. I remain seated in my two-inch high chair at outdoor concerts, even in the rain. I love folk music. I wear gortex and sensible shoes. My favorite places are the blooming hillsides reaching towards snow-capped Mount Rainier. In the Northwestern woods, I watch for bears.

Not only am I bicultural, but I'm bilingual, too. I know that in the South "ya'll" is always plural and in the Northwest, "liberal" has a positive connotation. Imagine that. Mary

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