Friday, June 10, 2011

That Southern Feeling

I was raised in a very small, rural town in Sweet Home Alabama. Our town didn't have the things that most places have like traffic lights, fast food restaurants or a decent grocery store. We had to travel at least twenty miles in order to experience the luxuries that were afforded other towns. Today, there is a traffic light and a few restaurants but no chain restaurant. Hooray!!!!!

We may not have had many luxuries, but we did have a sense of community. Our town had that true Southern Feeling. All of the children who lived in my neighborhood rode the school bus, yes, yellow school bus with no air conditioner in Alabama, to school. Riding the bus really provided bonding opportunities for us. Mr. Buster, our neighbor, would take us on hay rides on the back of his huge truck for Halloween. There were plenty of girl scout meetings and cookouts, choir rehearsals, band rehearsals etc.

What sticks out the most in my mind is the free lunch program that was held at the church during the summer. Everyday, during the week, the kids and their parents would go to the church for the free lunch that was provided by the government. Yes, we did get benefits from the government. I hope that this does not turn to many people off. But, we would get there early and maybe have bible study, play, fight and eat our free lunch. When I think of those bologna sandwiches with that thick cheese, I get a warm feeling.

Children being Children

So, I have lived in two cities: Detroit and the DC area. I have really been pondering what it is that I love about both of these cities. The answer hit me as I was running with a lady from my running group, and we were discussing people that we mutually knew from the different groups that we belonged to; these cities have that Southern Feeling.

Detroit is a big city that is full of people from the South. I taught high school in Detroit, so, I was welcomed into the community. I was invited to church, back yard barbecues, and neighborhood bars. While driving in my car, people would blow or wave, because they recognized me. Now, you know that this is awesome in a big city. When I would go into my favorite bar, it felt just like Cheers with that Southern Feeling of everybody knowing everybody. There is nothing like going some place and people knowing your name.

Now, the DC area is my home forever, I hope! It definitely has that Southern Feeling. The main thing that contributes to that Southern Feeling are the number of groups that are here that helps to make this big area, which includes DC, Maryland, and Virginia, a really small place. There are running groups, cycling groups, scrape booking groups, book club groups, hiking groups, cooking groups, church groups and the list goes on and on.

Place where I love to run!

I am a member of two running groups, a book club group, a cycling group, and an outdoor group that is part of the school where I teach. I also have friends who are members of other groups and so, from time to time, I partake in their groups' activities which expands that Southern Feeling even more.

I run into people from my different groups all over the city. Although I may not know many of their names, when I see them out, it's like running into old friends. I met two girls who are from a small town near the small town where I grew up, and we chat like we have been knowing each other forever. With the running group, I typically run with the same people every week, but every now and then someone new will pop up.  I ran with a lady last Saturday who knew quite a few of the students whom I currently teach. I thought, WOW, this really is a small town. While watching the news, I saw this political commentary who looked real familiar, and then I realized that he was a man from one of my running groups; he is a friend in a round about way. When I have these type of experiences, I get the same feeling that I use to get when I ate those bologna and cheese sandwiches at the church.

There was a research done, trust me on this, I'm not sure where I read it, but the research stated that if a person has at least one group that he/she belongs to, and she is expected to show up at least once a month, this increases that person's happiness level.

So, if you live in a big city or a small town, I am encouraging you to join a group or start a group in order to increase your happiness level and get that Southern Feeling.

There is someone out there who knows what I'm talking 'bout. HOLLER............


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