Every year around this time, I think about that Memorial
Day Weekend many years ago that I spent excitedly packing for my move from New
Hampshire to Roanoke, Virginia. I remember how nerve-wracking it was thinking
I'd forget to do something or notify someone important that I was leaving for
good. A week later, we crammed all the boxes — all my possessions — into a
Ryder truck and left the Live Free or Die state for the Old Dominion. That was
25 years ago this week.

There was some culture shock upon moving south of the
Mason-Dixon Line. I'd never had sweet tea or been called a Yankee. Both of
those things changed within the first week. Sometimes I had to ask people to
repeat themselves because I couldn’t understand what they were saying.
Strangely enough, some had to ask the same of me. As the years passed, I’ve
developed an appreciation for country music and barbecue. It's more of an
obsession, really. And yes, I believe the slaw belongs right on the sandwich. I
still haven't acquired a taste for grits, though. That may take another 25

I was 23 when I moved, which means I have lived in Virginia
longer than I lived in New Hampshire. Although I have a fondness for New
Hampshire, especially the lakes and mountains, Virginia is definitely home. Over
the 25 years that I have lived in Roanoke, I have had the chance to roam around
Virginia and all the other southern states. I’ll never be considered “southern”
by those whose families have lived here for several generations, but I’ve
learned enough to know that this is where I want to remain. That may be hard
for my northern friends to grasp. Y’all should visit the south and then you’ll


6 Walnut Avenue • Vinton, Virginia 24179

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