Friday, February 20, 2015

Some of my best friends are from Alabama...

My husband and I moved to Alabama for his job when I was pregnant with our oldest daughter. We've lived here more than 11 years now, and I'm still a little in denial about it. 

A while back I was talking about the civil war with my daughter. Conversation went like this:
me: we won the war so...
her: wait, Alabama was part of the North?
me: well no, not "we" Alabama, "we" Ohio. Mommy is from Ohio.
her: you've lived in Alabama 10 years. You're a southerner.
I felt like she slapped me.

And that was not the first time she had tried to get me to understand that we are Alabamians. When she was about 4, she wanted to be a cheerleader for Halloween. I offered to buy her an Ohio State Cheerleader Outfit. She looked at me with disdain (yes, even at 4 she could pull off disdain) and said, "why would I want to be an Ohio State Cheerleader? I am from Alabama. I want to be an Alabama Cheerleader." Naturally. 

She's now 11 and still totally firm in her love of Alabama. In fact, recently she said she wanted to live in Mobile when she grew up. I asked why. She said cause they have a beach. I told her there were beaches all over the world. She said, yes, but that beach is in Alabama.

So I'm trying to learn to accept the fact that my daughters were born and raised in Alabama. Today I saw some study where Alabama ranked near the bottom again in well-being surveys. And I had my first moment of feeling like I should stick up for my daughter's home state. A state she loves.

So here goes. Yes, there are political realities here that make me cringe every time I think about them. Yes, I wish the state did better in a lot of things. But the truth is, while those things make for great punch lines on the Daily Show, and make me occasionally feel like hanging my head in shame, they do not define our life in Alabama.

We have found a community of like minded people. Many of whom grew up here. Of course, that I feel I need to add that fact proves I'm not totally past my stereo-types about Alabamians. And as my 8-year-old likes to tell me, stereotyping is not good. And the truth is, some of my best friends are from Alabama...

I like to think I'm open-minded and tolerant. One of my best friends once told me, "liberals always think they are tolerant. But they mean they are tolerant of everyone but conservatives." There is some truth to that. I make little to no pre- judgements about people from exotic cultures. But I'm surprised a bit every time I meet someone intelligent and well-rounded who grew up in Alabama. And again, I live, work and play among them. So I should know better. 

I should know that loving Alabama or Auburn football means just that your a fan of football. Speaking with a southern accent reveals only a birthplace, not an intelligence level. I should know that you can not judge a person's character by their zip code.   

My daughter has every right to be proud of her home. And I need to learn to say with pride that I am from Alabama. I don't have to be proud of every policy or historical event. But I can find satisfaction in the life we've built here. I can take ownership in the state and work to improve the well-being for all here.

I can be proud that I am raising thoughtful, compassionate, educated children who are proud to be from Alabama and want to grow up and live on the beaches of Mobile.

She occasionally shares random thoughts in no consistent way at...

So AJ Jacobs shared a sermon I wrote on the Global Family Reunion Blog. Before he posted it, he sent me the intro to look over. Originally it said, "she blogs at..." I was like, I don't feel like I blog. I feel like I occasionally write stuff and post it to a blog and share the link on Facebook. So AJ was kind and changed it to "she writes at..." Which last night sounded great to me.

Then my crazy kicked in a little bit. So this morning I sent AJ an email saying, "so she writes at is also now making me crazy. I have real problems I know. Started to think I don’t write at something the way you write at Mental Floss or Esquire. More like I record random thoughts at…"

He was kind again and indulged me and sent an email to the Blog editor to change it. But she had already posted it with the aforementioned "she writes at..." intro. And so now I feel compelled to write something here on this blog today.

The problem is I have no process. I don't consistently write on here. And when I do write here, the topics are all over the place with no real theme connecting them. It's a creative outlet for me. One that I usually only indulge in when I have something to say.

So if you've found this blog today through the link on the Global Family Reunion, I want to say thank you. Both for your interest in the Global Family Reunion and your interest in my random thoughts. Hopefully you will find something here that resonates with you. And I'm glad we're family now.