i realized tonight that i've been living in the south for as many years as i lived in the north. i've always been a hard core northerner in my heart & i've spent more than a few of the past 17 years feeling rather snobbish about it. but i have to say that there are some definite perks about living down here and they don't just include the weather.
for instance, it is considered acceptable (at least from my observations) to go to the grocery store in your pajama pants. i've seen lots of plaids, several spongebobs & a random pair of cloud/rainbow pants strolling past me in the store over the last few years in tn. and certainly slippers are acceptable as well, but somehow the pj shirt seems to be off-limits. as if going into a store in a full-on matching jammie set would be over the top, but if you have carebear pants, fluffy slippers, curlers in your hair & you top it off w/ a sports team t-shirt, you're still in the clear. i still haven't stooped to that level, although i admit to being tempted earlier this week, but i do need to admit that there's a freedom in shopping in a store like that. it doesn't matter what time of day it is, you can wear your slippers out. and actually i've found that i can embrace this southernism. so much so that i actually got slippers this year w/ a real sole on them so i can wear them out regularly w/o worrying that they'll get damaged or nasty if i step in a puddle or traipse in the dog pile that my neighbor's dog so kindly deposited in my driveway. again.
another thing that i never saw up north is people going barefoot in public places. i know it's nasty & your feet turn black, but there are some days when i've worn a cute shoe that's just not practical, that i've been known to glance furtively around & then quickly chuck my shoes into the walmart shopping cart, aka: buggy, and proceed w/ my shopping w/ my tootsies bare.
and for some reason, there are a lot of people around here who feel like clothes are optional on children. i went to the dmv when i first moved here when brooke was a baby & i was trying to have a PMA (positive mental attitude) about accepting my tn citizenship. as i walked through the door, i was shocked to find that the place was crawling w/ kids & most all of them were filthy and/or missing clothing items that i had previously thought to be essential for going out of the yard. there were small boys w/ no pants or shoes on. there was a girl, at least i think it was a girl (hard to tell w/ the mullet cuz that can really go either way), w/ no shirt on. and several of them had passies dangling out of their mouths even though they seemed to me to be too old to still cart this around. they were friendly & smiled a lot & one even tried to check out the contents of my purse, but i felt like i was on another planet! or at least a third world country! don't these people have running water? don't they have wash cloths for their kids' faces? and for god's sake, potty train the kid who looks about 6 & is walking around w/ no pants & a diaper!
all that to say, i've readjusted my personal standards somewhat when it comes to how brooke is dressed. i still feel that she needs pants, shirt & shoes when we go out, but if she's got a stain on her shirt, i might let it slide if i'm in a hurry. and once when she was a baby i even changed her diaper right on the bottom shelf of the camping department in walmart because the bathrooms were closed & i had shopping to do and it just couldn't wait. my friend beth who's from ohio was mortified for me since i clearly didn't have enough sense to be embarrassed for myself, but i figured that the people around here shouldn't bat an eye. they've all seen baby booties before & at least this one wasn't waddling through the produce section!
so eventually, maybe i'll be able to embrace the fact that after this year i'll have lived more of my life down south than up north. and i have a southern husband & though i hesitate to admit it, my kid's fairly southern too. many of my best friends down here are southern & i love them! i don't know that i'll ever call myself a southerner, but i can happily live here & appreciate the things that are quirky & unique about this area. and i'm glad to live right here in tennessee.