Excuse Me, But, Yes, I Am From 'Long-Guy-Land'

By: Judi Lynn Lake


I have lived on Long-guy-land all of my life (yes, 'on' -- a Long-guy-lander does not live 'in' the Island) and moved to South Carolina five years ago. For those unfamiliar with tha Island, LI is NOT Noo Yawk City and has a culture of its own. Long-guy-land, in fact, as I have learned since living in the south, has a language of it's own which I am told is highly abrasive to the eahs.

Let me pouah a cup of cawfee first as I explain some of the adjustments of movin' to tha south.

Not for nuthin', but within my first week I had unknowingly insulted my next-door neighba, Maxine. She had welcomed us to the neighbahood with a scrumptious homemade cake and eagerly joined us for some cawfee and a nice 'get-to-know-you-visit'. As the conversation progressed, Maxine said somethin' extremely funny in which I impulsively blurted, "Get outta here!" Well, poor Maxine did just that. She got up and left. I looked ova to my husband dumbfounded...what's up with that? Then it occurred to me that she took my comment literally--she truly thought I wanted her to leave. Needless to say I had to apologize.

I gotta be honest here, it took me awhile to get to know tha areah but I finally got it. In tha beginnin' I had no ideah that lickah stoahs were cawled 'package stoahs' and it took me foreva to find one. I still don't get the package stoah thing but at least I know what to do now...not that I go all that often.

And then the tennis shoe thing. Oh, yeah, I forgot about that one. When my daughter started school, there was 'tennis shoes' on her school list. Well, first of all, no one in our family plays tennis and even if we did why woulda child in kindagawdin need tennis shoes? I called a neighba to explain my dilemma. It was as though we were talkin' two different languages and I wasn't gettin' it. Patiently, she finally suggested I go ova her house to see for myself. I come to discova that the tennis shoe thing was all about sneakas! Who knew!

A tea drinker most of my life, when I heah 'sweet tea' I'm thinkin' just that: a cup of tea extra sweet, right? And iced-tea is the cold one. Not heah--sweet tea is the cold one...again, who knew? And then there's Coke. 'Coke' is the general term for any carbonated beverage. It doesn't matta if you drink it or not, it's called 'coke'. That one still get's me because I don't even like Coke.

Having had worked in Manhattan for yeahs, I never realized how quickly a Noo Yawker walks or, rather, I really never thought about it before. Early on, a neighba, who I've since become very good friends with, cawled me to go to the mall with her. I was dying the entire time. First of all, a twenty-minute drive took foreva; she wasn't driving, she was crawling. I didn't get it, there was no traffic on the road but, trust me, no car went over 40 miles per/hour. In Noo Yawk, my nickname was 'lead foot'. Then we get to the mall and the walk from the car to the mall was anotha foreva thing, Bobbie-Jo walked so-o-o-oo slo-o-o-oow. I tried to keep her pace, but kept gettin' ahead of her to where she finally said to me, "hey, slow down, Judi -- what's your rush, anyway?" She had a point, I wasn't in a rush but....

The walkin' thing wasn't the only thing gettin' on my nerves. Everywhere we went, salespeople and casheahs wanted to chat. Who's got time to chat? Even if there was a line behind you, they just took their time and no one seemed to care...except me. And the thing that really got me was that every casheah genuinely told us to enjoy our day and hoped it would be a good one. Something I did notice, howeva, was that everyone was smilin'--that I was not used to. In fact, the sales receipts in the smalla stores actually have, 'y'all come back now, you hear' inscribed.

Since Noo Yawk is really a melting pot, food is easily available and extremely diverse. When I was pregnant, my constant cravin' was for Italian prosciuto and pignolis. Here, you are lucky if you can find anythin' with the name, 'Boars Head' on it and...basically everything is either fried or served with macaroni and cheese.

Yes, there were a few adjustments to make. Some hard, others easy. As the years have passed I do have a theory about us 'Noo Yawkers': maybe it wouldn't hurt to slow down a little, and, as they say, 'stop and smell the roses'. New Yorkers' are generally misunderstood since most are really good, genuine, hard-working people. New Yorkers' really care and it was especially evident during 9-11.

Since moving to South Carolina, I have learned to appreciate other things, different things and actually, even though I will always be a 'New York girl', I have adjusted quite well.

Slower is not bad, and actually my stomach has been in less 'knots' since our move to the south. Conversation is refreshing and the open space is incredible. My home is on 3 acres and my daughter and her friends, and, yes, my dog, have a ball.

I have learned to take things in stride and 'not have a heart attack' over everything especially since I found the 'inside scoop' on where to find Boar's Head cold cuts, some northern food...and Carvel ice-cream.

My daughter's school, a private Christian School, incredibly is better than any of the schools that were available within our district on Long Island. The children are all delightful and I know most of them as well as their parents.

Three years ago, when my daughter was four, I drove to Long Island to visit friends and to take my daughter to my mother's grave. While driving on the LIE (Long Island Expressway) the driver along side of me honked his horn and yelled, ''move it, you're holding everyone up!'' Ironically, I have driven that expressway all of my life but never calmly and never within the speed limit.

As much as I miss Long Island and New York, when I am there I can't wait to get back 'home'. The horns honking, the sirens, the closed in suburbs and, yes, the traffic, all get on my nerves now. These days, I look forward to the quiet, the easy conversation, and... the 'y'all come back now, you hear!' The way I figure it, I now have the best of both worlds and what can be better than that.

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Judi Lynn Lake successfully runs her own advertising agency which handles everything from logos, branding, videos and websites while continues to work closely with self-published authors from design to promotion. To learn more visit www.judilake.com

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