About nine years ago I went on a life-changing adventure. I mean, I am living out the story of The Watsons go to Birmingham. You know, that book by Christopher Paul Curtis about the African American family that travels from Flint, Michigan to Birmingham, Alabama? Yeah, that one.
Okay, well, not exactly. I’m white, for one. And, I moved with my boyfriend (yeah, we’re heathens), during the summer of 2007, not 1963. And…well yeah, okay it wasn’t actually anything like that book except that I’m from Flint, and I now live in Birmingham. And there are probably a thousand other people who’ve made the same move. (At this point, I should probably just cut both of these paragraphs, but I think they speak to my personality. Scary. But I digress. )
Anyway, nine years ago in 2007 my now-husband, Casey, came home to our cramped little rental house in Kalamazoo, Michigan. It was late winter or early spring (it’s all the same in Michigan: freaking cold and wet and gray and awful) and said, “what do you think about moving to Alabama?”
Um…well I thought a lot of things. Here’s a list of things I thought:
- Are you drunk?
- Are you high?
- Have you lost your freaking mind?
- Hell no.
- What do I think of it? Well, nothing, because I’ve never thought of it. Ever.
- I think people there don’t wear shoes, that’s what I think.
- Alabama? Did I hear you right?
- Is this a joke?
- I cannot teach Alabama kids! I won’t know what they’re saying!
Okay, you probably get the idea: I didn’t have a very positive opinion of the potential destination; However, while these thoughts whirled through my head, I also thought it might be a little fun (shh, don’t tell anyone that part). I had graduated college the spring before and right after had driven myself down to North Carolina in search of teaching jobs. Despite being offered a couple, I decided to stay in Michigan.
At the time of the proposed life-altering move, I was living in Kalamazoo and driving 80 minutes to LaGrange, Indiana to teach at Prairie Heights High School. It’s exactly what it sounds like: A tiny high school in the middle of a cornfield. We had cows, sheep, llamas (they keep the coyotes away. Did you know that??), and classes for future farmers. Now, don’t get me wrong, it was a great first job. I will always be thankful for the year of experience I gained from my colleagues and students there. That being said, I didn’t get into teaching to share my love of the English language with kids whose life goal was to take over their father’s farm. So, this change came at a pretty good time, career-wise.
It honestly didn’t take long to decide that, yes, I was, in fact, willing to move to Alabama. Despite having never once considered the state as a viable option, I was now considering a life there. (Granted, we expected to live here for maybe three years and then return to the Mitten State. That was nine years ago).
It probably helps that my family was very supportive. Where other mothers would freak out when their youngest daughter said she was moving several states away, my mom was actually excited! She saw it for the adventure and opportunity that it was. My mom is a special case: She’s from Scotland, and she always encouraged us kids to explore. She used to tell us to move away so they would have somewhere to go for holidays. She moved with my dad from Shetland, Scotland to Arkansas when she was 23. While I was worried about being 12 hours by car from my family, she was several flights away from hers, which I think helped me put the whole thing in perspective.
We (obviously) made the decision to give it a whirl. I won’t say it’s always been fun. I won’t say we’ve always loved Bama. I won’t say we haven’t thought about where else we’d like to live. But I will say, we’ve become a little attached to Dixie, and we don’t plan on returning to Michigan (mostly because of that weather I mentioned earlier).
I’m going to call this Part One in a series of Alabama stories that I’m sure I’ll return to many times over the next month, but that’s all for now, y’all!
I’m trying to write for 31 days straight with the Slice of Life challenge from Two Writing Teachers. Wish me luck!!