South Carolina is a far cry from the Canadian border in Lake of the Woods County, MN where I was born. It’s hard to think of myself as a Minnesotan since we left there when I was young. With my dad being in the Air Force I had many more moves ahead of me before ever calling anyplace home. The moves were hard for me. Being a shy and insecure child, I hated moving. We finally settled for the longest time in California which did become a place I eventually called home (and still do). But it’s nice to have two homes.
I met my husband after years of running the streets of San Francisco as a teen, and yes even hanging out at Lake Berryessa where the Zodiac killer stalked his victims. Like most teens, there was no fear in me. My husband was from South Carolina. When he first told me this my response was…”What? Where is that? Do people live there?” The first time I visited I thought I had never seen so many trees in all my life. I had never eaten a biscuit, drank sweet tea, or heard the term “redneck” much less know what it meant. I had definitely never heard the words “youngin”, “yonder”, or “ya’ll” – all the “Y” words. Words I promised I’d never say and have kept that promise to date.
I agreed to move to South Carolina, did (crying the entire way), and before I knew it was divorced with a baby (that’s a whole ‘nother story). My closest family was 3000 miles away, back “home” in California. I didn’t go back though. I stayed. Here I am, some 30 years later calling South Carolina home.
The transformation took time. I did a lot of exploring, getting lost, getting found. The smell of the beach as I got closer to Charleston grew on me fast. Maybe the salt water smell reminded me of my younger days living in Florida when I had no responsibilities ane my biggest problem was homework. I credit the amazing author Pat Conroy a lot for my southern education. His books gave me an appreciation for the love South Carolinians have for their history, their heritage, their food, football teams and dialect. This place that is now my home also.
Charleston is my favorite place on earth. Having a child with a rare heart condition made The Medical University of South Carolina in Charleston an oh so familiar part of my life. Now, when I head in that direction and leave my tiger pride in the dust, only temporarily, I don’t feel I belong, I do belong. I’m a part of that Market Street I walk so confidently. I’m a grain on the sand of Folly Beach as I stare up at the pelicans flying overhead. I have transformed from a young girl who was always the new kid who never fit in, to not only a Californian but also a proud South Carolinian. This is my state too. South Carolina grabbed me, held me tight, and loved me until I could love it too.