So, what does it mean when we say "my South"?
I suspect it depends on where you are.
My South is much different from, say, the South of "Gone with the Wind." You'd get another version in Atlanta, still another in Savannah, and something quite different in the Florida panhandle. And we haven't even mentioned the Carolinas, Arkansas, Montgomery, Oxford or even Texas (part of the old Confederacy).
My South is complicated, just so you understand. These East Tennessee hills were Union blue through-and-through during the War (if you have to ask which war, move on to something else), although you couldn't tell it now. History is a funny thing. We see in it what we want to see.
We're stubborn folks here. Republican partisans in a state that for years voted Democratic, although that, too, has changed. We don't really care how they do it in Nashville, much less in Washington.
We like our music. Oh, lord, do we like it. And politics. And football. And a good story.
I'm biased, but I think Southerners tell a better tale than any other species. It's in our blood. We didn't have much 'round here after the War, at least until the New Deal, air conditioning and TVA, so we sat around and talked. Now that, too, is largely gone with the wind. But we still have some good storytellers here and there, if you know where to look.
We're supposed to be church-goin' folks, but if you tell a big whopper, we won't say anything, especially if we like the way it's told.
We're hypocrites, too. Let's face it. None of us are perfect. The ones who think differently are usually the worst of the bunch.
Oh, but we have a good time. This world has changed a million times over, and yet we still hang on to some of the old ways, some good, some not.
We'll give you directions and send along a piece of pie for later -- as long as you don't look too different. (Yeah, we still have problems with that too. It's not just a Southern thing.)
My South is endless summer nights on the lake, sunsets that last forever, golden light dancing across rippling waters. It's fried chicken and sweet tea with the family on a sweltering hot Sunday afternoon, but please, mamaw, let me get out of my church-goin' clothes first.
My South is pretty girls that will break your heart every damn time, but somehow, you're glad you didn't miss the dance.
My South is Elvis and fried peanut butter and banana sandwiches, country music on Saturday nights, Neyland Stadium 100,000 strong, please and thank you, sir and ma'am.
It's grotesque and morbid, beautiful and sweet, so sweltering hot you can boil a blister, so cold you can freeze your ass off.
My South is this not-so-little-anymore Crossroads in which I was born and where I expect I'll die.
It's a place, and a people, that I love more than I can ever put into words. It's an intangible state of mind, and something quite real.
All this, and a million other things, that's my South.