After a quick Google search of the words Southern Girl I found that, aside from the lyrics to the popular country song by Tim McGraw, most posts correctly labeled the top southern stereotypes. I found many definitions, blogs, and comments that included sweet tea, grits, pearls, monograms, sunglasses, Lily Pulitzer, "y'all", biscuits, chivalry, manners, and boat shoes.
But those stereotypes, while correct, didn't begin to touch what I love about the South. I have grown to love Southern culture more over this past year than ever before (i'm blaming the nostalgia that comes from the prospect of moving). I don't own anything related to Lily Pulitzer (too froofy for my taste...yes i said froofy) and I don't wear pearls (although i'd like to [hint hint Kevin]), but everything else on that list is spot on.
What I love most about the South is The Charm. It's a real thing, and even after living here for 23 years, I still feel it. The Charm is tangible but not definable. All southern towns have their own version of The Charm. This is the closest i've come to defining it:
It's in the warm sunny air that wraps around you. It's in the polite nods and waves of passersby. It's in the floral scent that wafts lazily out of open shop doors. It's in the 'How're y'all doin today?' as you walk in an establishment. It's in picking fresh strawberries from an endless field and taking a break to dip them in a secret stash of powdered sugar. It washes through open windows and gently moves the rocking chairs in front of the General Store. It's in the grandma's wave from her porch swing as you drive by her house. I don't know her, but she probably gives her grandkids ice cream with fresh strawberries. It's in the smell of the sea breezes as they whisk up from the beach. It's in the wonder of hot biscuits with homemade jam and the taste of ice cold sweet tea. It's in big hats and sunglasses. It's in the sand between your toes. It's in a pedicure in late March because flip flop season has begun. It's in the 'yes ma'am's and 'no sir's and 'mr' and 'mrs'. It's in the flowy dresses and bow ties and Sperries. It's in bare feet and tan freckled faces. It's in the palmettos that stand tall and stately and katydids that sing at dusk. It's in the lightning bugs floating through velvety darkness. It's in family sitting on the back porch, swinging on the porch swing and laughing into the night.
I can't describe Southern Charm. It just is. And i'm going to miss its presence.