Being a Southern girl in SF

In my last post, I alluded to the fact that being a Southerner in San Francisco is like being a meat-a-tarian in a vegan restaurant (no, but literally).

When talking to someone from San Francisco, I feel like I may as well have antennae sprouting out of my head.

Most conversations go something like this:

“Oh – you’re from South Carolina? I’ve been there once. I was in High Point for the furniture market…. oh wait, is that North Carolina or South Carolina? Or – what’s the difference? Are they kind of like the same place?”

Or – my personal favorite – a colleague who told me all about the conversation she had with someone in North Carolina and how terrible the conversation … and then she said, “I was in Charleston… that’s North Carolina, right?”

NO! NO! NO! Charleston is NOT in North Carolina and High Point is not in South Carolina and North and South Carolina are ABSOLUTELY not the same place. If you are reading this right now and you’re from SC or NC, I know you feel my irk here.

How do so many people not get that SC and NC are two different states? I don’t know. But it’s making me a little crazy and/or homesick.

Here are a few other situations that have left me feeling a little – ahem – out of place:

  • Going to my first planning day at school and a colleague told us she brought snacks.
    • What I expected: I immediately lit up with a vision of mini-Snickers, Skittles, chips (old school Lay’s), diet Coke, and Goldfish.
    • What happened instead: She produced 4 plums, a bag of raw almonds, and 2 nectarines. Oh – and, in this same meeting, I learned that our school has a “no junk food policy” which means all dreams of candy, chips, and diet Coke were instantly shattered.
  • Having a friend tell me that X restaurant has “great Southern food” that I’ll love.
    • What I expected: My mind filled with images of fluffy biscuits with a buttery top, perfectly fried chicken, green beans with bacon, real banana pudding, country ham, and, of course, anything that is served at Bojangles.
    • What happened instead: Turns out, the restaurant doesn’t have any biscuits or chicken or banana pudding … they have jambalaya and gumbo. Friends not from the South: Southern cuisine is intensely different by region and gumbo is not a major or even minor feature in NC or SC. I know I’m being a little harsh here, but don’t get my hopes up like that about Southern food in San Francisco.
  • Going to church.
    • What I expected: I really wasn’t sure – I know that church is a dominant culture in the South and so I knew that it would be different here than what I’d experienced before, but I wasn’t sure what that meant. The church that I still think of as my home church in SC (Newspring) has multiple campuses throughout the state and weekly attendance in the ten thousands.
    • What happened instead:  We’ve tried 5 churches and the average attendance is 75 people – with one church being a far outlier with probably 800 in attendance. In the South, one of the first things people ask you is, “where do you go to church?” That would happen here – um, never.
  • Being married.
    • What I expected: We’d meet other young married couples and make married friends super easily.
    • What happened instead: I’m the youngest married person I’ve met. WHAT??? In the South, most people my age are already married with multiple kids (I’m 28 BTW and will be 29 in two weeks). Not so much here… everyone sees my wedding band as somewhat of a novelty/oddity at my [insert: young] age.
  • Having a glass of wine or a beer at happy hour.
    • What I expected: Everyone has an occasional drink at happy hour and a lot of people probably go out and enjoy themselves on weekends. But in SC, no alcohol is sold on Sundays and if you are drinking heavily, it’s not something you really talk about – you kind of keep it hush-hush.
    • What happened instead: People here drink. All. The. Time. It doesn’t matter the time of day or day of the week, people are drinking and drinking heavily without shame or abandon. Most invitations are always accompanied by some sort of drinking, like “you should go to the park and drink a couple bottles [of wine]” or “we can go to the museum and go out to the bar afterwards” or “join a kickball league where the main objective is to drink as much as possible.” It’s just a different culture than what I’m used to. People like to party here in SF.

As time goes on, I’m sure this list will only grow longer. Or maybe I’ll become more SF – who knows.

In the meantime, if you take anything away from this post, please let it be that South Carolina and North Carolina are indeed different places with very different cultures, people, and traditions.

And – yes – they are two. different. states. Look at a map.  Thanks, friends. XOXO.




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