Writer calls a few places homePublished 11:58am Friday, September 7, 2012
From birth until I started the third grade, our family called a bunch of places home.
I was born in Houston, Texas. Soon thereafter, I moved to Albany, New York.
After New York, we moved down to Alabama, but we were only there a year or so before we moved up to Tennessee. After our stint in Knoxville, it was right back down to the Heart of Dixie. We made our home in Southside, Ala., a suburb of Gadsden.
My myriad of homes has exposed me to many different types of cuisine, accents and cultures, for which I am grateful.
But for the boy who grew up a little bit in a lot of towns, no matter where I go now somebody is always giving me that you’re-not-from-around-here vibe.
I made a road trip this week to see my family in Amherst, New York, a suburb of Buffalo. My grandmother and my mother’s six brothers and sisters all live in or around Amherst.
I couldn’t wait to see all my aunts, uncles and cousins, most of which I hadn’t seen in more than six years.
As soon as I opened my mouth to greet my cousin Joelle, however, her mouth dropped.
“Your accent is so strong!” she told me, with a bit of a snicker.
I was dumbfounded.
As a kid, I was teased for my Yankee ways. I called Coke ‘pop’, and when I first moved to Alabama, ma’am and sir were not part of my vocabulary.
I can still remember the first time my third grade teacher, Mrs. Robinson, asked me a question to which I simply replied, ‘yes’.
“Yes what?” she asked, trying to lead me to a more complete response.
“Um… yes?” I said again. My classmates were laughing at this point.
It was embarrassing. After several warnings about being respectful from Mrs. Robinson and a parent-teacher conference or two, it became something I couldn’t turn off.
In time, I got tired of the looks people gave me when I asked for a pop, and I started asking for a Coke. I still flip-flop from you guys to y’all, and a few times on this trip I have heard myself bend to the local accent only to drop a ‘g’ at the end the same sentence with “eatin’.”
So the next time I get a funny look and a ‘you’re not from around here, are you?’ rather than a drawn-out explanation, I will simply say this: “Yes ma’am, I am. But you guys should know, I also call a few other places home too.”
Nelson is the news editor for The Outlook.