Welcome, Stranger :

Think about town where you currently live: its local customs, traditions, and hangouts, its slang. What would be the strangest thing about this place for a first-time visitor?

I find today’s Daily Post Challenge interesting.  Not only am I still a ‘stranger’ where I currently live, but I have been a stranger in the multiple states I have bounced around in.

Since graduating high school 21 years ago, I have lived in 8 different towns, in 5 different states.  With the exception of Danbury, CT, where I grew up, I have always been the stranger.  The odd thing is now, when I go home, I feel like a stranger there as well.  Most of the places I have live were in the northeast, only recently has that changed.

About 2 years ago, we moved to a town on the outskirts of the metro Atlanta area.  You would think, being the New England girl I am, that immersing myself in the south would be a culture shock.  Not really.  I have a mom and grandmother who both grew up in the south.  I spent many a summer in Louisiana and Mississippi visiting family.  Southern culture is not an unknown for me.  I have found that it is much easier for me to slow down to the southern pace than it is to go north and have to speed up.

For me, one of the major differences between north and south is the open nature of Christian faith.  I worked in northern states for 20 years and the only people I ever worked with that openly discussed their faith were Jewish, Hindu or Muslim.  Very few people discussed their Christian faith.  After living in the south for a week, I could tell you the churches where my son’s doctors, their staff, the teller at the bank and the cashier at the grocery store all attend.  Not only are they open to discussing their faith, they will initiate the topic.  In the north, if you say you are new in town, people will offer up the best restaurant or bar in the area that you just have to try, down here, they will tell you about the best church service that you just have to attend.  It’s not that they don’t like food down here, they just tend to eat at church functions more often than restaurants.

Speaking of food, I think the food shock hit me the most.  If you are not directly in Atlanta, you don’t have much variety.  In the town where we live, if you don’t want the regular franchises, the rest is pretty much fried chicken, bbq, a few chinese restaurants, lots and lots of really bad pizza, and not one good bagel to be found.  Sorry southerners……you need to travel north to understand about the pizza and bagels.  The bagels especially…..when I travel north I say it’s to visit my friends and family, but they really know it’s to eat a really good egg bagel with cream cheese from Bagelman.

My love of bagels aside, I have been told that I was a southerner at heart that just happened to live in the north.  Maybe that is why this adjustment came so easy to me.  Regardless of the reason, I have a feeling I won’t be a stranger forever.  I am sure I will find my place……and maybe even a bit of an accent.