5 Things I Miss After Moving From The South

I left the South not thinking I’d miss the place that helped shape who I am

I moved to Colorado and I told everyone that I couldn’t wait to get away. Maybe it’s the politics or the heat. Okay, it’s probably the heat, but after living in the South and seeing what else the country had to offer, there was a little voice in the back of my head that kept telling me it was time to pack up and leave.

My fiancèe found a job that she wanted and we did just that. We left and thought we wouldn’t look back.

I didn’t think that I’d get homesick, but I did, and it snuck up on me like that monster in the shower that stalks you while your eyes are closed as you’re washing your hair. For me, it happened as soon as I got accustomed to my new Southwestern life. There are so many things I didn’t think I’d miss, but boy was I wrong. Some of these things I didn’t know were tied to my being. The South put its hooks in me good. Real good. And I was missing it a little (a lot).

1. Sweet Tea

I’m talking, “I love to have a little tea with my sugar” tea. The kind that makes you smack your lips after a sip. The kind that your grandma has a recipe for that you can’t ever duplicate. I drank sweet tea maybe once a day, if not more. If you cut me open, my blood would have been 90% sweet tea. I thought it was something I could do without, but I had no idea how much it had become a part of my daily living. Of course I can make it at home, but it’s something about going somewhere, ordering sweet tea with your meal, and not having to add your own sugar or having to suffer through some Milo’s. On top of that, there were no more sweet potato pies or cobblers or really seasoned food. Is this what it’s like in Hell?

2. Zaxby’s

Okay now before you judge me, Zaxby’s is freaking delicious. There is no other fast food place that tastes like Zaxby’s because it is in the highest echelon of Southern fast food. When I moved, I thought that it was a nationwide chain. I found out that it just feels like that because in almost every town east of the Mississippi, one of these beautiful slices of heaven exist. I pulled up the nearest Zaxby’s on Google maps the day I stepped foot in my new apartment. It’s 9 hours and 38 minutes away. Is 30 minutes of gluttony worth a full day of driving? Short answer — I know the route by memory.

3. Trees

There are places where you can literally count every tree standing in the city. You romanticize what it would be like to not have to deal with pollen in the spring and summer or raking leaves up in your yard. But it’s definitely a trade off. You lose your protection from the wind, there is no shade — anywhere — and I mean ANYWHERE, tumbleweeds have free access to destroy you (no seriously, tumbleweeds are a true American danger), and any drive you make feels like an eternity. You don’t realize how much trees symbolize a bustling ecosystem and life until you can see all the way across a 400 acre brown field of nothingness on your drive to the next town.

4. Guard Rails

I took these for granted. To every steel cable, to every guard rail, and to every caution sign, please forgive me. I never appreciated you the way that I should have. I don’t know what it is about here, but they do NOT believe in guard rails. Steep slopes are met with apathy. Curves will have you looking over into your untimely death. Guard rails were almost just a part of roads down South. They were a security blanket I never had to think about because they were just there. While not being aesthetically pleasing, it beats living life on the edge every time I have to go somewhere that isn’t just right down the street. Guard rails are kind of cool. Hey y’all, please invest in some more of these revolutionary road devices.

5. Black People

The South is a sea of diversity. It truly is. That’s not the case here. I knew I was in trouble when I asked random people for 2 weeks in Walmart where they got their haircuts and they all gave me the same person. 2 weeks is not an exaggeration either. It took me 2 weeks to get a large enough sample size of Black men to feel good about the answers they were giving me. I’m Black. I love my people and I love my culture. I was already in the minority at home, but even other minorities are closer to the majority than I am here. It’s weird going out into the world you live in and not having the comfort that a large sum of others have shared in your experiences. This isn’t to say that I don’t like being here, but I miss going places and seeing a beautiful rainbow of melanated people fill up a room.

Bonus: Humidity

Getting ashy and having dry lips is a real conundrum. If your hands touch, you might start a fire. If you smile too hard, you may not have usable lips anymore. It has never been so serious. And if you have any type of curl in your hair, good luck trying to prove that you take care of it. Your scalp will be crying for help every single day. That’s the real shame here.

Thank you Colorado for making me see that you don’t realize what you have until it’s gone.

A writer and singer-songwriter centered around perspective and diversity. Words found on Medium’s Level and Marker. Follow me @JoshuaDairen on Twitter and IG.

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