While, much to my dismay, I no longer have the accent, being southern is a big part of my identity. To me, the south represents casual elegance, relaxed happiness, and a smile and a "hi" for everyone you pass on the street.
Some things change. Lots of new people moving in to Charleston, most of them nouveau riche and driving fancy cars. I went to a private school and the girls lived in mansions, vacationed in Vail, but drove wood-paneled station wagons. They tore own the "old bridge" and the "new bridge" and put up an even newer one. The "old" one was a bit of a roller coaster and was so steep it’s now actually illegal to build a bridge like it.
But some things stay the same. The sound of ice cubes clinking in a glass of lemonade will quickly transport me home. I miss the almost daily thunderstorms that drench you in an instant but also break the humidity if only for 30 minutes. I still love street art and festivals and I know that started because I grew up going to the Spoleto Festival, almost unknowingly being exposed to chamber music, theater, art, and dance while wandering the city, through historic churches and the oldest theater in the US.
But the thing that will definitely never change is that this is my home. I may live in other places but I will always tear up a bit when I think of Charleston. I will always be able to hear and smell the ocean in my mind. I will always feel lucky I got to grow in a place like this. And I hope I will always be a good example of southern hospitality. I can’t wait to go back even if only for 3 months.