Archived Story

Life in the South

Published 1:38pm Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Living in the South is the best.

Small towns in the South are even better.

I’ve never been someone who was eager to leave the small town life. I grew up in a few different small towns. Crossville, Tenn., and Cookeville, Tenn., are both places I have called home. I lived in Selma for a summer, interning. My latest small town loves, of course, are Alexander City and Dadeville.

Sparta, Tenn., the place I now name my hometown, is about the size of Dadeville. Most of my classmates couldn’t wait to leave. I was eager to break out on my own, as well, but not to get out of Sparta.

Moving to Auburn was, to my mind, moving to the city. Oh, I’m aware it’s no Birmingham or Atlanta, but it was nice finally live in a town that had a movie theater – to say nothing of the Zaxby’s – and to have clothing store options beyond Walmart.

But in my heart I know Auburn is the biggest city I would ever want to live in.

I drove to North Alabama this weekend to attend a bridal shower and visit my in-laws. The route, unfortunately, requires taking Hwy. 280 through Birmingham to Interstate 59.

Dealing with the traffic stress requires shouting for me – not necessarily at anyone in particular, just announcing loudly to the empty car, “I don’t like this! It’s too stressful!”

I made it through, however, and enjoyed my weekend.

It was a sign I saw on the way home that made me proclaim something different – again, to no one in particular.

“I love the South.”

It was when I stopped at the truck stop in Falkville. I don’t know if you’ve ever been to Falkville. I haven’t but for the stop that particular morning at the Love’s. But if I ever do, I know the first place I’ll go, based on the city’s excellent signage.

A blue, wooden sign right off the exit, proudly announces:

Welcome Center

Falkville, Alabama

Tourism Info

Free Cold Water


I love the South.

I love hospitality. I love macaroni and cheese. I love sweet tea. I love signs about tourism that promise free cold water.

I love being able to give a hug as naturally as a hand shake. I love hot summers, mild winters, college football and sayin’ y’all.

At some point, my husband and I hope to move closer to his hometown – Trinity, Ala., population 2,100. And when we want a night on the town, we can drive the 15 minute trip into the big city of Decatur.

Some of the best country songs, in my opinion, are all about country, small town living – like Where I Come From, by Montgomery Gentry.

“If you ain’t ever took a ride around and cruised right through the heart of my town, anything you’d say would be a lie … We may live our lives a little slower, but that don’t mean I wouldn’t be proud to show you where I come from.”

Or Banjo, by Rascal Flatts.

“Sometimes you gotta go beyond the pavement. You gotta go deep, way on back, cross a few creeks and a couple little shacks. You gotta get lost way on out. Crickets and frogs, yeah you’re gettin’ close now. And you kick it into four wheel drive when you run out of road, and you go, and you go, and you go-go-go til you hear a banjo.”

Or My Town by Montgomery Gentry. Or In the Middle by Rodney Adkins. Or Where the Green Grass Grows by Tim McGraw.

Maybe it’s not classy. In fact, sometimes it might be downright tacky.

But there’s no where else I’d rather live.

James is a staff writer for The Outlook.