Generally speaking, a true Southerner will try to make your acquaintance. I saw a woman the other day passing through here from Michigan. I asked her how she liked the South. She said, “You are good at being fake nice.”
“Fake nice is better than real mean,” I answered. She didn’t know what to say and left for the ladies room in a few minutes.
The South can leave you speechless. The South cannot be explained. It can only be fully enjoyed or marveled about or maybe even hated. The South embeds itself in your heart.
Wherever you go, even if it’s all the way across oceans and years, you will always feel the magnetic pull of a swaying willow tree; the melodious sound of a clear stream over flat rocks; the shiver of water so cold it chills watermelons; the reflection of a silvery pond where you saw one elegant black swan gliding past; the trashy, colorful flash of a beach city; the Spanish moss hanging solemnly from a Savannah tree; the smoky or tangy taste of slow-cooked barbecue; the perfect brown and white rows of cotton bolls; the greenish-blue shimmer of giant lakes and nearly always, the trusting hello, the firm handshake or the gentle hug of a stranger trying to be your friend in less than a minute.
Minutes pile up. For many minutes, some of my Northern and Western strangers and friends share the almost unspeakable passion of this exciting, inviting, almost-holy land where God lingered a little longer.
There’s something special and different about the South called the Spirit of the South.
The South’s fragile force invites you; betrays you; puzzles you; repels you and enthralls you. Sometimes she disappoints you or loves you to death. But she won’t often let you forget. The South will stay in your mind like a shadow behind a door, or like the grace of a breeze at the very edge of a summer night.
Brook Evans is a writer living in Cleveland, Tenn. Visit her website at whitehothair.com. “1,000 Words: A Writer’s Journal” is an occasional feature showcasing essays, stories and anecdotes about Chattanooga, the South and our world. To be considered for publication, submit 1,000 words or less to http://scr.im/2gp6 (protected email). Use “1,000 Words Submission” as the subject of your email.