Monday, June 24, 2013

Looking South (REVISED)

     When I mention I want to move South, people look at me aghast. "Why?", they ask. "You're a Liberal. They'll kill you and eat you. If you want to move go to the Northeast. Connecticut, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, Delaware." I explain because, snow. Cold. Also New England tends to be a bit staid for me.
The South on the other hand is warm. Mild winters. A more laid back lifestyle.  Besides there are Progressive Southerners who despise the stereotypes that their Representatives tend to reinforce on the National stage. I am also quite adept at finding the Liberal resistance cells. Having read and spoken with some of these Progressive Southern voices I have great hopes for the South. The South has progressed, albeit slowly. There are still attitudes entrenched in the culture that will take time to evolve past. There are good Southerners of vision leading that evolution. They need our encouragement and support, not
our  ridicule and disdain.
But they're redneck racists, I am told. Trust me, Liberal Columbus Ohio has their share of those. And then some.
I will say during Segregation and Jim Crow at least the South was up front about how they felt. Unlike the insidious covert racism of the North. An African American could eat at the Woolworth's lunch counter but they'd best be back in Bronzeville when they're off work. We had our Ghetto and Red Lined neighborhoods. Here in Columbus the Federal Court ordered busing to desegregate the Columbus School System two decades AFTER Little Rock. I remember when the Ghetto here in Columbus burned. In the upscale suburbs there is the issue of driving while Black.
I've been in the South and Deep South. What I've found are warm, caring people. A culture of hospitality and a genteel sensibility. OK, there's ignorant rednecks there. So, we have them here. It's conservative. Have you looked at an Electoral Map of Ohio lately? Or Indiana?
When I was working in New Orleans I found there, what I felt was a sensual, open outlook on life. The food was a celebration. The music was communion. The sultry atmosphere had a certain erotic charge to it. I felt Tennessee Williams was writing documentaries.
Whereas Ohio is a cold hidebound repressed society. A certain sexual and social repression that may be remnants of the large German population that shaped Columbus in the 19th century. It's only in the last twenty years that there has even been culinary adventurism. When I grew up there was only Cantonese served in Chinese restaurants. No Mexican or Thai. Boring Mid Western food in an over sized College town.
Columbus has changed. More vibrant, more diverse and sophisticated but still repressed and emotionally cold.
I fell in love with the South when I was there. And I'll admit the women had a lot to do with it.There seems to be cultural differences between the North and South. Southern women have this open charm lacking in the Mid West. Strength with compassion. The velvet covered steel. The gentle ability to slice you to the bone with a smile. You don't even feel it. Ninjas in heels and sundresses. They claim to have superpowers. I believe them. I have been bewitched, bothered and bewildered by them a few times. Southern Women are right up there with redheads when iy comes to making me stupid. Smitten. Surrendered. And that dark jewel of the Delta, New Orleans has stolen my heart. Soothed my soul.
There seems to be a tradition of appreciation of eccentrics, rogues, scoundrels and scalawags. My kind of people. People like me. A person I respect once told me I have a certain Southern sensibility to me. I took that as a compliment. If true my readjustment will be easier. I will need a southern culture tutor though. Need to assimilate correctly. Active camouflage.
I'm not naive. I know moving isn't a panacea. A magic cure all for my myriad problems. But if I'm alone and miserable here in Ohio, I can be alone and miserable just as well somewhere else.  Someplace warm, weather and culture-wise.With good food. A different outlook on life. A smile and dinner. A drink with other eccentrics. They don't hide us crazy people in the attic.  They invite us to lunch.

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