When I was younger, I hated the fact that I lived in a small country town. Going into town was considered a family trip and we were lucky if we weren’t all carsick by the time we got there because of the windy roads. Along the way we’d get held up by tractors, trains, pickup trucks, you name it.
I had this little story book I used to read called The Country Mouse and the City Mouse about two mice cousins living two different lives and visiting each others’ worlds. This was my favorite book for the longest time because I wished that I had a cousin in a big city who might want to trade places with me for a little while. It was a nice little fantasy.
Anything having to do with the country, I despised. I would curl my nose up in disgust when my mom would exclaim with pride that she was raising me and my sister to be “good country girls.” I would protest every time Southern Rock, especially Lynard Skynard, would blare through our tape players. I rebelled by only purchasing rap music, even though I didn’t really care for it either. My dad would seem so disappointed that I hated being from the country and he’d tell family members, “This one thinks she is too good for us. She’ll move out of here the first chance she gets.” I really really wanted to live in a big city with everything in me.
Things are a little different now. The farthest I really got from home is where I am now and while it isn’t a big city by any means, it certainly is different from home. Since it is a college town, I’ve been introduced to people who have lived just about everywhere. Through conversations, interactions and just being myself, I have come to a certain conclusion: Perhaps you can take the girl out of the country, but you can’t take the country out of the girl. I would still love to move to a big city, but my laid back southern breeding makes me wonder if I really could handle it.
For so long I tried to deny who I was. I told myself that I was nothing like the other people back home. I was different. I had different likes and dislikes – different plans for myself and my future. I had no desire to get married and start a family early on because I never really kept a boyfriend long enough to make me start thinking seriously. I had nothing to hold me to where I was except family. Still, there are things about me that will always remain, and I hate using this word, redneck. Try as I might, my mom did raise me as a good country girl and there’s nothing I can do about it.
I love the fact that if I wanted to see my grandma, my aunts, my uncles, and my cousins, all I have to do is walk outside. Back home, your family members are your neighbors. Having them close by is comforting, and I enjoy it.
When I go home, my shoes come off at my front door and that’s where they stay the whole time I’m there. My feet can withstand the dirtiest of ground, the rockiest of roads and I laugh in the face of gravel. Sure, I may be stocked up with Lamisil, but there is nothing that feels better in this world than walking around your yard barefoot.
My favorite meal is soup beans, fried potatoes, sauerkraut and corn bread. For dessert, a blackberry cobbler. My mouth is watering at the mere thought of a meal I once refused to eat because it was considered “country cookin’.” Speaking of, my mamaw makes the best chicken and dumplings you will ever taste. Most people don’t even know what those are here, and this is West Virginia. I pity you people.
I own two cowboy hats and wear them without any irony whatsoever. In fact, I love them. I do own cutoff shorts, and in my opinion, they are the only way to go when it comes to wearing jean shorts.
The back of the truck will always be the best place to ride, especially down dirt roads.
When I listen to music now, it’s almost always Southern or Classic Rock and I admit that I truly do get choked up every time I pay attention to the words of Simple Man by Lynyrd Skynyrd. Country music is not so bad either, especially on Sunday mornings after stuffing yourself with biscuits and gravy.
Clubs are okay, bars are even better, but Honky Tonks are the best. I’m a rowdy drinker. I don’t sip on martinis and Cosmos, I slam beers and shots of whiskey usually followed by me screaming “WOOOOOO.”
Sure, people know your business back home. It can be an incestuous (and I’m not talking about sleeping with your cousins/brothers/sisters “incestuous”) circle where half of your friends have been your lovers too and everyone knows everyone’s business, but at least you feel like you are someone. At least you’re not just another face in a crowd full of people. Granted, others love their anonymity, and I can too, but I can only go so long without hearing that so-and-so said this about me before I start wondering if anyone cares what is going on in my life anymore.
I used to think I liked pretty boys – borderline metrosexual. There is no way I could see myself with a guy like that now. I need a man. A strong, rugged country man who fears nothing and will walk alongside me barefoot. A man who will put hot sauce on everything he eats.
There are some things as a country girl that I don’t think I will ever be able to get into though. You will never see me line dancing. I don’t care for sweet potatoes (or yams) unless they are in form of a pie. And no matter what, I just can’t get myself psyched up about going into a Wal-mart. I fucking despise that place with everything in me.
I will no longer deny my roots or foundations that made me the person I am today. If I make it to a big city, that will be great. For now, I’m okay with staying grounded as a country girl. There’s no escaping it really. The accent is a dead giveaway.
Carrie Nations was barefoot while writing this article. Her toenails are currently pink. E-mail this southern belle at firstname.lastname@example.org.