Tuesday, July 11, 2006

Settling In

July 11, 2006, Trying to Settle in to the new homestead.

We are still waiting on Robb’s car and a wagonload of our belongings that did not leave Madison when we did. In fact, they haven’t left Madison at all. The car should be loaded today, and will make its way here via Oregon. Everyone close your eyes and imagine this route, Madison, Oregon, Chattanooga. Somebody is enjoying a little too much of something I suspect. How long will they keep our boxes? I’m trying not to think about that right now since I’m still trying to figure out which utilities I’ve started and cancelled at which house.

The ‘New South’ is an absolute picture of contrasts. Take our newspaper. It is the Chattanooga Times Free press. Its actually two papers in one, liberal (sort of) and conservative (definitely). In the last couple of days half the editorials are in support of Al Gore’s new movie and half are ranting about the lack of Americanism by those liberals. Everyone is trying really hard to at least give lip-service to being racially and progressive and then some guys shoot up a Koran and throw it at a Mosque and the police are trying to decide if this act violated anyone,s right to feel safe and unharassed for their beliefs. The library contains more books on Christianity than the Vatican and they reside beside all of David Sedaris’ books and ‘Zen in the Workplace’. Feng Shui books are proudly displayed in the devil worship section. (no, not books on how TO worship the devil, how NOT to) In the words of my favorite ex-columnist,
“I am not making this up!”

I’ve discovered too, that class distinction is healthy and well. Northerners and Floridians have mainly instituted any of the socially responsible programs and some people live here precisely because they can get away with things that offend the social and societal morals of the North. For example there is none of this ‘Liberal building of housing for all levels of income right next to each other’. “And shoot, why would anyone NOT want to carry a loaded pistol in their car, it’s just un-American!”

Signal Mountain does have a recycling center, but you have to want to recycle. None of this babying by picking up recycling for you people. One of the more tragic failings in the area is the complete lack of financial funding for education. When you listen to the rhetoric it sounds as though some high placed government officials out there as well as some religious leaders want to keep everyone as stupid and ignorant as possible so that they are easier to control and take advantage of.

OK, enough of the ranting. Let’s rave for the friendliness, helpfulness and community warmth in the South, and the slower, mostly more calm pace of life. I notice this especially with the women. Everyone jumps in to help even if a person is simply asking for directions and the process takes the time it takes to get it right, or at least to an acceptable conclusion. This process includes trading of as many phone numbers as possible and making several lunch dates.
Me: “I’m looking for Pleasant Lane?”

Women: “Oh, let me see, oh dear, it’s the opposite direction, Emma, what do you suppose is the best way to get to Pleasant?”

Emma: “Why I think it’s over the ridge. You know, it’s by the Pumpkin Patch. Do you have children dear?”

Me: “Yes, two girls.”

Emma: “Oh you have to take them to the Pumpkin Patch. It’s just wonderful.”

Woman 1: “Here’s my number in case you need anything, I’m Sandy and all my children are grown but I’ve lived here all my life.”

Emma: "Now here are the directions to Pleasant, what school are your girls going to? Thrasher? It’s just so good. Have you gone to Ayala yet? Wonderful Mexican food.”

Woman 1: “Now don’t forget to call if you need absolutely anything! We’re always around and you are sure welcome to the Mountain. Where did you move from?”

Me: “Madison, Wisconsin via Seattle, Washington.”

Them: “My Goodness that is quite a move, you must be so much happier to be in a warmer place, isn’t it just so cold up there?! Well you will just love it here! Bye dear!”
So far I've collected 4 phone numbers from strangers and an invitation to dinner a 'The Club'. On Friday night. I'm not sure which club. I didn't even know there was a club.


marchlion said...

Oh, Lordy. I myself grew up across the river in Virginia, and my mother was Deep South. My husband whistles "Dixie" every time we cross the Potomac. He feels like the entire south (except for Palm Beach) is just like the movie Deliverance, and thus best avoided.

I wonder where your stuff is?

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emotenote said...

Marchlion, we are still wondering the same thing. Rumor has it that a guy with a truck will be arriving sometime this week, but I'm afraid they are just teasing us. I understand your DHs view. I have taken to playing air banjo (dueling banjos) when we drive out of the city. I AM a little worried about going camping....

Lori Witzel said...

Wandered here via Laurelines, and found myself chortling lots.

When I moved to Austin (from New York City, waayyyy long ago) and people would ask what living in NYC was like, I'd say "Easiest way to frighten a bunch of tough-skinned, hard-bitten New Yorkers is to get on a crowded elevator, make eye contact and say 'Howdy, how are y'all doing this morning!'"

Emotenote said...

Lori I think you're onto something. I'll bet a person could start some sort of revolution this way, say, start exporting busloads of southern tourists to the big apple, Friendly the place up a bit. Actually I lived there looooong ago as well, and I have to say that once you did make eye contact and broke the silence barrier people were really fun and helpful. The little bit of crazy didn't hurt either....