Wednesday, December 5, 2007

Moving North to Find South

My writing tonight is a serious Hat Tip to FriedOkra .

Reading her posts makes me laugh, but also evokes serious thought for me.

I grew up in the BIG BAD CITY. Actually many cities: Miami, Medellin, Panama City (in Panama, not in Florida), Bremen, Munich, Gothenburg, Birmingham, Cleveland, Nashville and a whole lot of others along the way.

It was something I never thought about. It was where I was from. A little bit of everyone of those cities had an impact on me and I will never forget what I learned.

In Bremen, I learned where I was born. I learned that a city can be beautiful and old, and smell like coffee and hops brewing. A city doesn't have to mean smog and dirt.

In Medellin, Colombia, I learned that a city can be beautiful, and culturally diverse, and GROW, and that family still has a place. It is ok to be proud of your country and your culture, and still have closely knit families.

In Panama, I learned (as a CZ Brat) that cultures can mesh. The old can coexists with the new without fading into oblivion.

In Nashville I learned that centers of education are not solely for European cultures.

In Munich, I learned ancient family history.

In Gothenburg, I learned that you can watch a sunset at 2 AM, that swimming in freezing water is fun, that you won't die of hypothermia and you can support Greenpeace without losing your morality.

In Miami, I learned that you can have street smarts and not bow to a victim mentality.

In Cleveland, I learned the opposite: Victim mentality works (Not my favorite city, but since I was there, it seems to have gotten better).

In Birmingham, I learned what the South was.

All of those cities taught me valuable lessons, but no lesson was harder to learn than the one I learned in Fort Lauderdale, Florida. That is where my daughters were born, and where I learned that there are easier places to raise your children than the BIG BAD CITY.

Five years ago, I made a decision to pack up my babies and move 800 miles from home, to a small town in the Panhandle of Florida where I knew no one. My friends and family thought I had lost my mind. In my mind, I was doing the right thing.......I was moving SOUTH!~

I wanted so much for my daughters, but more than anything, I wanted them to have a chance. A chance to grow up at a normal pace. Not a pace that demanded they make decisions on morality, or sexuality, before they were ready. This is still not heaven, but it is several steps closer.

In this town, if you don't belong to a church, ANY church, people wonder why. In this town, if you do not volunteer at your child's school for SOMETHING, people wonder why. In this town, if you are not involved in the community somehow, people wonder why. It is the SOUTH I longed for.

The fact that I moved my kids from a failing school system to the best school system in the state, should give them a clue, but my BIG CITY friends, just don't get it.

They ask why, I would leave a cultural mecca to live here. To live among the military (egads!!!!!!) they support, but in the abstract only. To live in a town of 65,000 people VOLUNTARILY?????? Unheard of.

The fact that the area where I live is called the "Redneck Riviera" is enough of a deterrent, Their comments are usually along the lines of: "most beautiful beaches in the world, great vacation spot, but WHY would you want to live there, It's not even on the I-95 corridor!".

My answer is simple:

I FOUND THE SOUTH!

And my babies, although not immune to the real world, have a better chance! They show it every day.

4 comments:

Roger W. Gardner said...

Great, and surprising post. Boy, you have certainly been around. No wonder you're so smart.
And good for you for having the courage to do what you believe is right. Too many people think about it, and talk about it, and never do anything about it.
After living and working in big cities -- including NYC -- for most of my life I moved here to this little New England coastal town of 17,000 almost thirty years ago.
I love my life here. And if you don't love where you live -- move.
Nice thoughts, thanks for sharing them.
Luvya,
Roger

Beth said...

I think living somewhere named the "Redneck Riviera" sounds like heaven...especially since I've got a lot of Redneck in me!

The people that say they don't understand why you moved probably do understand but are just too afraid to admit that they would like to move too. It takes guts to do what you did! Moving away from everything you know for the sake of your family sounds like the right thing to do!

Miss Beth said...

Bravo Michelle!

We moved from a tiny town in Oklahoma to Arizona when I was a child and it was a hard transition, but I grew to love it. When hard times hit economically, I moved to Vegas. My jobs were there, but my oldest just didn't do well so my mom and I talked and my daughter stayed with my mom in Arizona--hardest decision I've ever made. But my daughter benefitted. After my son started school, I just couldn't stand Vegas anymore and started looking for jobs back here--it took 2 years, but we finally got back and my kids are so much better off than they were in Vegas. People ask me the same thing--why would I give up Vegas to go back "home"--well, where we are has almost a million people, but it still has a small town atmosphere and a lot of morals left. Forget Vegas--I'll take "home" anyday!

Good for you! And you have a GORGEOUS family!

Miss Beth

Linda said...

Wow, good for you. Just by chance, that's not Bremen, Indiana, is it?