So long, Deep South

I was raised next to a cow pasture. My Paw Paw has had at least two head of cattle since I was tall enough to look out the window and watch him mow his land.

I worked at a restaurant called The Shed beginning at age 16. When we wanted to have a party in high school, it usually took place in the woods with a circle of tailgates and a huge bonfire. I don’t happen to have a drawl until I get around my friends and family from home.

I grew up in the Deep South — as far south as you can get without jumping into the Mississippi Sound. I love where I’m from, and I’m proud of my roots. I moved two hours and fifteen minutes west to Baton Rouge to pursue an education. I found more similarities in the cultures of the Mississippi Gulf Coast and southern Louisiana than I ever anticipated. I felt as though I was welcomed with open arms as soon as I settled here.

Needless to say, I’m experiencing some mixed emotions for my next big move. I’ve never been to Illinois. I’ve never seen any of the Great Lakes. The largest cities I’ve visited have been for a limited amount of time and included the usual tourist happenings, i.e. visiting the Liberty Bell in Philadelphia and seeing the Washington Monument in D.C. Chicago will be my new home, and I refuse to be a tourist.

0001-2I hope to bring a little slice of the Deep South I know and love to The Windy/Second City. I vow to bring my love for salt water, the Mississippi blues, the over-usage of y’all, and my love for LSU sports.

I don’t want this quote to be misconstrued. I know that, currently, there are better opportunities for me to leave the region I’ve always known and loved to leave my comfort zone and grow professionally. More than anything, this C.S. Lewis quote will act as a mantra when I start missing the people and places I love the most.

I bought my one-way flight on Monday. When I land on Tuesday, May 27, I’ll start a new chapter. Wish me luck (and send me some southern care packages).

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Back where I come from

I am a proud native of the Mississippi Gulf Coast. 

When I tell most people that, they tend to have similar responses.

  1. “That’s cool. I’ve been to the Beau Rivage before.”
  2. “Why is the water brown?”
  3. “Do you live close to the Prime Outlets?”

Believe me, I like shopping just as much as the next person (not really, I kind of hate it) and the Beau Rivage is a great spot during the holidays if you desire cheesy family photos, but that’s not what I love about where I’m from.

Let me explain number 2 in detail. The Mississippi Sound, not the Gulf of Mexico, is the body of water directly south of the coastline in Mississippi. The barrier islands surrounding the Sound lead to the Gulf of Mexico. Conundrum: the islands (and the addition of water from the Mighty Mississippi) don’t allow for much circulation to take place near the coastline. While the water doesn’t seem super appealing, the islands have acted as a sort of blockade in past hurricane seasons. We’re grateful for that.

Besides, take the trip to Horn or Ship and you’ll notice that the water actually gets…blue.

What does one do on the MS Gulf Coast? I don’t know about the average inhabitant, but this is what I do when I go visit my favorite place on earth:

  • Go to the beach; I’m not sure how long I could stay away from the salt air
  • Check out the local shops, restaurants and museums (I recommend Downtown Ocean Springs for the full experience)
  • Visit the barrier islands
  • Drive down a few back roads for the hell of it
  • Listen to awesome music in dives you’ll never hear of unless you’re from the area
  • Hang out with family and friends (usually on or around the water)

There’s more than meets the eye. I’m not talking about the new casinos or shopping centers. I’m talking about learning more about the history of the coast. Believe me, some of it’s juicy. I can say that when I left the coast for college, I thought it was for good. Now I realize that no matter where I go, I’ll never truly be home.