I have to admit that I have an accent…ok I really do. You may ask me just how I know this? Well, the reason is that for the past 22 years I have been a military wife and I have lived in some amazing places and so many of them are not southern! We lived in Germany for 3 years for example and it was wonderful! But I can only imagine how my North Carolina mountain drawl sounded to their European ears. Hawaii was another place of adventure for us and yet another place where the native tongue and way of speaking were definitely not Appalachian.
We have also lived in many southern states including Alabama, Georgia, Virginia, and Texas for a time–and I realized something in all those travels. There are many kinds of drawl ya’ll! Living on a military base also brings you into contact with people from all corners of the world and invariably the question would come, “Where are you from?”. Rarely did it fail, and then some very different sounds began to be noticeable.
Each new place we lived would dampen my own native speaking voice in some ways. And yet, if I heard a North Carolina or Southwestern Virginia accent, I could almost always identify it. There is a unique drawl to Southern Alabama. Another twist on the same with a slightly different sound was spoken by the Savannah Georgia native friends of mine. They would ask, “where are you from” while their own drawl was very noticeable to me.
It was when I came back here, back home that I heard this local Appalachian drawl with what was almost a shock to my system. In those first few weeks and months I heard people on the telephone saying comments such as, “Just a minute hon”, and “Here you go sweetie” with a drawl that makes sure very few words are one syllable. And it is beautiful!
I remember when the movie Forest Gump came out and I was working in a military hospital in Ft. Bragg North Carolina. One of the doctors I worked with actually asked me if I had been “offended” by what he perceived was a portrayal of the southerner as “slow”. I laughed to myself as I realized that I had been quite sure that the character Forest Gump was being portrayed that way–not all southerners.
So a few months in to our move here now I realized that I needed to write this down in words to preserve these feelings because as time goes on–I don’t “hear” the accent as loudly or as obviously as I did when I first came home. Just as the bell became silent in the story “The Polar Express” as the children grew older, the sounds for me are becoming natural as my ears become accustomed to them again with time. I hear my own accent becoming thicker with the passing weeks as well. Where once I tried to tame my drawl–now that I am home once again–it can sound off loud and clear.
I am home once again. I am feeling more that way every day. The pace feels comfortable now, the people and places are beyond familiar. And I am becoming myself again in ways I had not realized when we made this move. Why just today I stopped on the side of a dirt road and made this little video for the blog–I wanted you all to see how the little calves of the Spring were growing. Sharing the mountains as only a woman with a southern drawl can!