Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Yankeefication

I had no idea what to expect moving up here. When you think of New York and New Yorkers, and you have limited experience with both, you tend to picture what you've learned about it on TV. Antarctic conditions in the winter, irratic drivers, brusque (and frequently) rude interaction with people. But I already knew I couldn't base any assumptions on what I've see on TV. TV makes all southerners look like debutantes or inbred rednecks and based on the TV they get, the poor Europeans think all Americans are either homicide detectives or lifeguards in California.

Being married to Tom didn't help all that much, because he came from New Jersey (Philadelphia metro) and had no experience with upstate New York either. Over the course of our marriage, I've given him what I refer to as the "Yankee Pass." When we were first dating (and I had limited experience with men of the Northern persuasion) and he'd liberally wave the finger at passing motorists, or the minute his light turned green would meet still-turning traffic in the middle of the intersection, horn blaring, and keep it there for the next half mile, or I'd see him walk in front of a little old lady slowly making her way toward a door, open it and dart inside in front of her, I'd think something along the lines of "Dear God, please forgive him. He's a Yankee. Bless his poor, rude little heart."*

I just assumed that since he fit the stereotype of the Yankee I had in my head, everybody north of the Mason-Dixon line was going to act like him.

And yet, since we've been in Upstate New York (and western New England, as it's sometimes called), I haven't had to open a single door for myself, the people are unfailingly polite, using please and thank you liberally, and they really, really love the word "ya'll" here, although I'm still not sure they understand when to use it. I was at a store yesterday called Huck Finn's Warehouse, and saw a sign above customer service that said "Y'all Compliments Welcome." I'm not sure if it was intended to be a play on words, if they're in need of a comma, or just confused about southern speech, but the writer in me desperately wanted to attack the sign with a sharpie.

Aside from that, I feel right at home here. It's as if someone took all the places I've loved living, put them in a blender, and hit puree. There are the mountains from Asheville, the rivers from Cincinnati, the parks from Greenville. I haven't been here very long, but it feels like I've lived here my whole life. I feel this sense of peace, even in our tiny hotel apartment, that I'm where I'm supposed to be.

Tomorrow we finally close on our house, can move in, and officially become New York residents. I can't wait. Let the Yankeefication begin!

*After ten years in the south, Tom has reformed his ways. Just in case you were curious. :-P

1 comment:

  1. as a born in atlanta raised in ct by southerners odd crossbreed, i've always maintained once out of the urban nyc to boston vicinities, to the north or west or both, we revert back to 'southern' common courtesies.

    heck, in maine, they even eat grits and biscuits.

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