Just realized as I was rocking out to "Sweet Home Alabama" (on the radio, no less) that people here consider it a karaoke song but would likely be surprised to know that there’s a whole contingent of people to whom it is a lifestyle.
Which got me thinking about the South, my identity as a misplaced Southerner, and started me wondering how people decide where they’re from. While I’m officially FROM Ohio, I’d say – and do say – that above anything else I’m a Southerner. I identify with its people, its customs, its culture. One of my favorite professors in college, John Shelton Reed, taught a class re: the regional sociology of the South. He posed that regions usually define themselves, and used somewhat untraditional means to define the "boundaries" of the South, including how many references of the word "dixie" appeared in local phone books. A freshman in this Sr. Level class at the time, I was more worried about keeping up my GPA during a sun and beer-filled Spring semester than I was about learning about this foreign place beneath the Mason-Dixon, but in the years that followed I’ve found myself referencing this class and Professor Reed’s findings. As such, I know where the South IS but not necessarily WHO it is.
And yet as I sit here in another "foreign" land (SF), I know that mint juleps, Derby Days and hot, hot summer nights are in my blood, and there’s nothing wrong with a little moonshine or sweet tea.
Just not together. Even this Southerner knows better than that.