If someone would have asked me where I thought I would be living in my 30th year I would have never in my life imagined myself responding “Birmingham, Alabama”. I would have for sure answered Florida. Maybe New York. Places I was familiar with. Places I had family and friends. But that’s not what was in store for me. So here I am. In Birmingham. With a husband who loves me more then anything and my two sweet kids. And you know what? Life is good. Really, really good.
Let me tell you a little bit about the shock one might have when moving to a southern state. Because no, Florida (as south as it may be) is nothing quite as southern as this.
The people here are nice. All the people. No matter where you are or what you’re doing. They will wave. Say hello. Chat about the weather. Chat about your car. Chat about the kids. Chat about the dinner they made last Tuesday. They will just chat. Nicely. And with meaning. They genuinely care when they say have a great day. And when they ask you a question, they are really listening to your answer.
Things move slow here. Much slower than I was used to. I ran into Target one morning with an hour to spare before preschool pickup. Raced to the checkout with the perfect 5 minutes to go. 15 minutes later I was still talking to the cashier about what ply toilet paper was better and whether or not there was a coupon for it. And oh, the apple fritter bread? Yes, It is delicious but I do have to run. It’s ok though, I just schedule Publix in for the “morning” now.
Ruffles. Ruffles. And more ruffles. To church. To school. To the doctor. To the playground. Let me paint a picture for ya. First day of preschool last year. We pull up and I am so excited for Juliana to meet all her sweet friends. In her denim cutoff shorts, with a graphic tie dye tank and Nike shock sneakers. Standing in line next to what looked to me at first like a bunch of pillowcases (with monograms of course). We stuck out like a sore thumb for the better part of the year. And likely still do. Ok, ok we do. As long as I keep buying her clothes in South Florida we will. However, I must say those embroidered dresses are rubbing off on me. There is just something so angelic and sweet about them. I’m just not sure they pair well with Mini’s sassy attitude.
Speaking of monograms. I do like them. Really, I do. In fact I made this wall hanging, and had my sister hand paint Joey’s monogram in his nursery long before we even knew we were coming to Birmingham. (I swear, I didn’t do that just to fit in). However the motto in the south should be “monogram allll the things”. Because that’s what they do here. Tervis cups, onesies, bottles, keychains, outfits, car windows, front doors, baby blankets. If it isn’t nailed down. They will monogram it. And you know what? Just this week mini asked for her “name letters” in her room, since we have them hanging in Joey’s room and the playroom. She is just such a southern belle.
Weekends in the Fall are sacred. Saturdays are for football and Sundays are for Jesus. There is no other way to spend a weekend in the south if it doesn’t involve cheesy beer dip and church. It’s like southern state law. Know it, learn it, live it. I’m embarrassed to say that I still don’t know the difference between roll tide and war eagle but I can make a good cheesy beer dip and I can pretend to know a thing or two.
People are praying for me. Why? I have no idea. I heard “bless you” so many times when I first moved here it took me a month to stop taking out a tissue to wipe my kids noses. There was no sneeze. Just a whole lot of blessing. And now that I am used to it, and stopped taking Zyrtec, I find it humbling. People who don’t even know me will pray for me. For my family. That’s got to make you feel good.
I saw a saying the other day that stated
“Bloom where you are planted”
And I really feel as though we did. We got planted here and spent an entire year making the best of it. Missing our family and support system terribly and spending a lot of holidays just the four of us. But that’s ok. I have made some really great friends and feel comfortable in the community. Our social calendar has been busier this year than ever. I really tried hard to bloom here and I proud of how settled I feel in just a single year.
So even though the Gambino family can look a little out of place around Birmingham, the city definitely grew on us. We have spent a year creating a little life here. And I’m loving it. We are accepting of the southern traditions and love learning the true meaning of southern hospitality and charm. I just hope the south is as accepting of the Gambino’s with our cut off shorts and sassy attitudes.