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If you’re lucky to live by the beach, you’re lucky enough
The minute I opened my acceptance letter to Coastal Carolina University, the sounds of waves breaking and the dream of a sun-kissed tan danced around my head. The chance to go to school 600 miles away from my small town in New Jersey was the most thrilling and terrifying feeling I’d ever had. As an only child, I grew up extremely close to my parents. The idea of leaving them to start a new journey so far away haunted my every thought as I counted down the days to the start of my freshman year.
I was no stranger to the beach lifestyle, considering I grew up on the New Jersey shore, but in the South time moves differently and the lifestyle is a little slower and a lot sweeter. Moving to Myrtle Beach was an easier transition than I thought it would be. The city is packed with Northerners searching for that simple Southern lifestyle, and Coastal Carolina was no exception.
For the past four years I have made strong connections with plenty of Southerners, but I was surprised to find out how many Northerners made their way into my circle of friends. Some days I feel like I meet more people from New Jersey in Myrtle Beach than I do people from South Carolina. And although my original plan was to settle down with a moonshine drinkin’ and sweet tea sippin’ cowboy, I ended up falling in love with a man that was a little closer to home than I’d expected. I’m ecstatic to say that I am engaged to a Pennsylvania native and fellow Coastal Carolina University graduate.
After graduation I started a part-time job as a beverage cart attendant at a local golf course. I applied for this job to help make some money as I searched for a full-time job in my career field. I wasn’t expecting to fall in love with this job as quickly as I did, and I attribute most of that to the Myrtle Beach vacationers.
The number of customers I have from New Jersey and New York is astonishing. Working in an environment with people from my home state and some even from my hometown helps me relate more to Myrtle Beach everyday. Weirdly enough, I even met a man who was a close friend of my deceased grandfather.
The relationships and connections that I have made in the short two months that I have been working at the golf course are ones that I will never forget. These are the days that I find myself embracing the South and pushing my Northern roots aside. These are the days that I stop myself from laying on my horn in traffic, the days that I cheerfully say “hey y’all” to everyone I pass in Piggly Wiggly, and the days that I take five minutes to breathe in the salty ocean air and count every blessing in my life.
Recently I have started to look at Myrtle Beach as the North of the South. Some Northerners may move to the South to retire and bask in the beautiful weather. Some Northerners have moved south to open Italian restaurants, so there is pizza, pastries and pasta at every Italian’s disposal. (I recommend Toffino’s Italian Bakery & Deli in The Market Common.) And some Northerners have simply fallen in love with the sweet Southern lifestyle and everything that comes with it.
The South is changing more and more every day by adapting to the fast-paced ways of the North. Snowbirds who would typically only flock south for the winter have made the South their permanent residence. And although I may not be a snowbird, I am definitely not going anywhere anytime soon because I, too, have fallen in love with the South.
I’m a Yankee living way below the Mason-Dixon line and I’ve gone from “you’s guys” to “y’all” in a Southern minute. I went from blasting Lil’ Wayne to Luke Bryan and I’m always blessing someone’s heart. Making the transition from the North to the South was an exciting ride, and I’m still learning more about South Carolina everyday.
Although I’ll always be a Jersey girl at heart, I’m proud to say I have another state of mind now, and that’s the Southern one.
Illustration by Tremain T. Farrar