It was just after midnight when I found myself in a small, dark, and hidden bar in the Greenwich Village neighborhood of New York City, the Summer of 2007. Because the late-night crowd had not yet come in, I was able to overhear a guy at the bar asking for a gin & tonic. It wasn’t what he asked for but how – in a slow, drawn-out, sweet, Southern twang that made me buckle at the knees. Little did I know that my life as a city slicker (having grown up in Washington, DC, attended college in Boston, and then living the rest of my adult life in NYC) was about to change forever.
I married my Stetson Man a few years later while we were both still living in the Big Apple, but before we did so, we tackled all the hard conversations any responsible couple would: “What do we do about the fact that you’re Christian, and I went to a Jewish day school in Israel, you prefer Fox News while my parents are recovering hippies, you cook with lard and I have an “unrefined coconut oil only” policy?” Luckily we were able to come to an agreement on most things, including the fact that we were not going to raise our family in the North. We did not come to this conclusions without debate, though.
Grab your popcorn, sit back, and enjoy the age-old Yankee vs. Rebel debate (with a family oriented twist):
Yankee (Me): The northern cities I know and love have opportunity, hence my endless boasting about how Hilary Clinton spoke at my high school graduation and how I gathered eggs in a basket every Easter on the Whitehouse lawn. They’ve got museums (72 in DC and over 100 in New York City) and some of the best schools in the country (just ask Chelsea, Sasha, Malia, and the Gossip Girls). And the restaurants… Michelin Stars were awarded to a mere 70 in NYC. Our kid’s first word could be “sashimi!” Not to mention the walkability of the cities. Who needs car seats when you have public transportation and 24-hour delivery services? Who cares that we’d live on the 28th floor of a 600 sq/ft apartment? Kids love elevator buttons! And don’t they still use styrofoam down south? I don’t want my offspring growing up with non-recyclables.
Rebel (Him): Where I’m from, kids can get into school without us having to shell out $50K per year in tuition, and nobody needs to be fluent in Swahili while playing the viola for a chance at admission. On weekends, we hang out as a family, stuffing ourselves with homemade goodness from Mimi’s kitchen without taking our eyes off of SEC football. When we do feel like venturing out, events are easily accessible, rarely sold out, and packed with everyone we know. The weather, eight months out of the year, is game-on for outdoor activities. What’s healthier than that? And you know that $22 gin & tonic I was drinking the night we met? That just doesn’t exist south of the Mason Dixon. The average cost of a house in Memphis is $180K vs $600K in a New York City suburb (there are no houses in Manhattan) and $535K in the DC Metro area.
Game, set, match…
I am so often asked how we decided where we’d end up raising our family.
For us, it came down to priorities. In reality, it was family first. But clearly, Memphis weather, cost of living, and an all-access pass to the word “y’all” sealed the deal.
When I need a quick “big city” fix, I dress in all black, throw on a monster pair of shades (inside,) treat myself to a delicious meal, browse one of my favorite local stores, and then sit back and laugh because I’m absurd. I love my sweet Southern life.
“Yankees are pretty much like Southerners except with worse manners, of course, and terrible accents.”
― Margaret Mitchell, Gone with the Wind