When anyone asks me where I grew up, I always answer North Carolina. We moved there before I started 8th grade. It was quite a change from Central Pennsylvania. First day of school went something like this.
Homeroom Teacher: Class, we have a student who is new to our community. Is Pat Day here?
Teacher: What did you say?
Me, thinking she didn’t hear me: YEAH, I’m here.
Teacher, reaching for something in her desk drawer: Boy, you will address me as “Yes, Ma’am” or “No, Ma’am” or I will take this paddle to your behind so fast it will make your head spin!
I could spend days writing about the culture that shocked me at first, and hooked me after a year. I could write about the food. “Barbecue what?” as another friend from the north said. “You can’t just call it Barbecue. It’s gotta be Barbecue something.” I could write about the cars, the most dominant one, of course, being the ’79 JEEP CJ7.
I could write about the people, so many great people.
Here’s the thing, and maybe I would have discovered this anywhere. Maybe it was a product of timing and not environment. But moving to a place where I didn’t feel like everybody else gave me the opportunity to figure out who I was going to be. It took a while, some ill-timed wiseass comments (See a pattern?), some bad haircuts (back when such a thing was even a consideration for me), and some poor music selections, but I found it. And because of that, I can’t get that town completely out of my system.
And I wouldn’t want to.