Moving Violation

February 17, 2013 | By | Comments (6)
Illustration by Brian Ajhar

Illustration by Brian Ajhar

When the shock and awe of relocation comes full circle, you know you’ve found your way home.

Last month, my husband, whom I call Mr. Beasley (long story), was pulled over for speeding. At least, this is what the officer told him. In reality, my husband was driving with the flow of traffic—in a station wagon with New York plates. Amidst the teeny backwoods hamlet we were traveling through, that’s an offense far more grave than suffering a lead foot.

“You’re lucky you didn’t end up in jail!” local friends gasped when apprised of the stop.

Though we relocated to the South a year ago, Mr. Beasley has maintained his New York residency. This has less to do with vehicular technicalities than the fact that he is stuck in stage three of the “four stages of moving” paradigm. The stages, for those unacquainted, are much like those for grief or marriage, the last of course being acceptance. My husband—California bred and New York educated—has of late been struggling to find himself in an “acceptance” space.

This is not to say he doesn’t care for the South. He does. His kin hailed from Texas, and many still reside in Houston and Amarillo, cities they love, as Texans do, with shattering devotion. He has logged short stints in Louisiana and North Florida. And it was his idea to move to East Tennessee, a region he found creatively inspiring and bracing in its natural beauty. It didn’t hurt that Mr. Beasley has been in love with local icon Dolly Parton for nearly four decades and is convinced that one day he will spot her in the grocery, picking out cheese. Of course, this was all during stage one of moving: “This place is so awesomely different!” (It should be noted that stage one applies to the South more than any other location outside of Mumbai, especially for folks used to things like taxis, nor’easters, and Barneys sample sales.)

Stage two hit eight months into the relocation: “Back home, we do it this other way.” For my spouse, “this other way” could be boiled down to anything having to do with speed.

Folks in Tennessee are not in what one would ever mistake for a hurry. They walk slowly. They drive slowly. They talk slowly. During stage one, this was charming.

“Did you know the bank teller’s daughter is majoring in criminal psychology and that her sister is totally the bonkers one, just like her aunt Sylvia, who shot that guy for breaking her mailbox?” Mr. Beasley would say after running three errands in four hours.

The allure of the leisurely tempo faded, replaced by a chorus of “Why?”s familiar to anyone with a toddler.

“Why is this dude driving in the left lane?”

“Why can’t she just ring up my eggs without telling me about her Weight Watchers points?”

“Why is this taking so long?”

“Why did we move here at all?”

And thus was born stage three: the reckoning, aka, “This sucks.”

To be fair, moving does. Starting over is hard in any place (never mind one that is literally making you slow down via law enforcement). You have to find childcare. And fresh medical practitioners, which may or may not include a shrink after you can’t secure reliable childcare. Add the tricky social web that is the Southern pecking order and the oft-capricious regional communication wherein “Don’t you just love her?” really means “Don’t you just wish she would trip into the river?” and what’s a poor, straightforward, California sunbucket to do?

“I am starting to feel like I don’t know what is going on, ever,” Mr. Beasley lamented not long ago of his Dixie-induced, Matrix-like fugue. He was feeling like Alice tumbling down the rabbit hole, surrounded by peculiar, oddly speaking characters in a tea party that never ended.

Which is about right, really.

“We embrace nonsense here,” I explained. “Southerners take no issue with absurdity. We don’t pretend the world is logical or fair. If there were a signature regional gesture it would be a shrug. For us, crazy happens. Better to sit back, enjoy the show, and drink the tea.”

Recently, my spouse said that while walking home he’d seen “a pit bull with a parrot on its head, a teenager picking banjo, and an amateur wrestling match in the dry cleaner’s parking lot.”

“One guy was wearing a sequined mask!” he marveled, clearly pleased.

And there it was. The commencement of the last stage: “I think I could live here.” He was on his way to becoming the best sort of Southerner there is—a Southerner by choice.

Allison Glock misses biscuits, banjos, and pickles any time she leaves the South. Especially the pickles.

COMMENTS

  1. David Smith

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    March 15, 2013 at 10:07 am
  2. sharon r.

    This article made me laugh out loud! We moved to east TN 8 mo.ago from PA. We have had all the same experiences. Its been interesting to say the least, but the sweet tea is great! Working on the last stage of moving…

    March 5, 2013 at 2:00 pm
  3. Karyn Porio

    Omg I LOVE that story! We moved to Benton, Tn from Ft. Laudetrdale,Fl. We are so rural we have to take our garbage to town. Lol Left a town of 5 milion to move to a town of a thousand. Everyone knows everyones business. My husband was born in NY of Italian heritage with the last name to match. When we moved here it was going around town that he was either in the mob or in witness protection from the mob! The real story is he is a retired police officer of 26 years from a suburb of Ft. Laud. I have finally gotten used the stares or the question “You aint from around here are ya?” or my favorite “You sound like you should be on “Mob Wives” The stories I hear at my job hear in Tn. are just amazing, now I know why Jerry Springer gets his people for his show from around these parts!

    February 22, 2013 at 6:40 pm
  4. Beth Walton

    This reminds me of our move here! After we FINALLY got the phone connected, overflowed bathroom taken care of all of which happened while Larry was in Greensboro, I called a former neighbor and told her she was cheaper than mental health care!!!! Little did I know that was just the beginning!

    February 22, 2013 at 12:02 pm
  5. athomeinasuitcase

    “For us, crazy happens. Better to sit back, enjoy the show, and drink the tea.”

    I love it!

    February 21, 2013 at 12:20 pm
  6. earri daram

    my co-worker’s half-sister makes $74 every hour on the internet. She has been laid off for 5 months but last month her pay check was $18931 just working on the internet for a few hours. Here’s the site to read more……… BIT40.ℂOℳ

    February 18, 2013 at 7:25 am

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