“We’re Not Southern, We’re Mountain”

It only takes about thirty minutes of talking with Mia and I slip into a Southern accent that is neither my birthright or authentic. We are taking the afternoon to go to a Buddhist class together in the city. This is no small step for a woman raised in the Southern Baptist tradition.

On the way there, I confess to her that I am disturbed by hog jowls and their recent appearance in the local grocery store.

“Oh honey,” she coos, “Don’t even get me started. That’s more a tradition from the Deep South. That just ain’t right.”

“Well shee-it,” I say, noticing my own patterning. “I’m almost as put off by them as I am two gallon jars of pickled eggs.”

“I don’t eat nothin’ that’s pickled unless it’s pickles,” she says matter of fact.

We go back and forth like this, our rapport having grown since we first began working together at the craft school Coffeehouse. It is a relief to have a female friend my age to call on for life’s trails and tribulations that actually lives in the valley. We can talk face to face, we know the same people, and we go to parties together to ease the strain of our mutual social awkwardness.

Mia has advice about men. She has advice about women (“Let me tell you,” she says, “I work in an office full of ‘em. Whew!”). She knows everybody and whom they’re related to (her mother is a Young and her father is a Buchanan, which explains everything, not the least of which is the fact that she and her husband sat down and went over a four family genealogy before finally deciding they could tie the knot, certain that they were not related). She knows where to get the best car wash in town, who’s gonna rip you off and who you can trust. She knows who’s in the meth and who’s gotten out of it alive. She knows who cheated on whom and who shoulda left whom but just didn’t get the guts up yet. On top of that, she is one of the most active minds I know and is admirably open-minded despite her “closed-minded” upbringing.

“But oooh, if my Momma knew where I went today,” she says, referring to the Buddhist class on our way home.

“If you get home before your husband, you should sit on the floor cross-legged like a yogini and start sayin’ ‘OOOOMmmmmmm’ over and over again when he walks in,” I suggest, chuckling at the image.

“ I was thinkin’ ‘bout somethin’ like that. I tell you, the first thing out of his mouth would be ‘Well Goddamn, baby!’” she laughs comfortably, know that Jonathan will support her fully whichever path she chooses. “Actually, he might even like to come next week,” she smiles.

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