As I’ve been getting out and dating with more regularity these days, I’m getting tons of practice at
“being me.” What I mean by that, is that I have the pleasure (torture) of presenting myself in my best
light over and over, sharing the same autobiographical highlights and trying to skim over the lows. The
problem with being me however, is that I am an absolutely terrible liar, and no matter how hard I try to
maintain a prim and proper front, the real me slips through the cracks and I’m exposed. I can’t help it-
no matter how far I wander, my bones are made from those Appalachian Mountains I call home. And
honestly, I don’t mind it.
The first thing to usually out me is my speech. I get paid the “compliment” quite frequently when I am
speaking to people not from here that I don’t have an accent. I suppose it is a compliment considering
how long and hard I’ve worked at trying to acquire a more non-regional dialect. Let’s face it, it takes a
bit of discipline to re-train your tongue and brain to work against nature when pronouncing vowels. But
the insinuation is that if you have a southern accent you’re automatically perceived just a bit dumber,
no matter what you’re discussing, and to that I take some offense. So it never fails, the moment I let my
guard down and start telling a story from my past or have more than 2 drinks, my I’s start getting longer
and the y’all and ain’t bombs start dropping from the sky, and I get hit with “oh you really are from
My brashness is typically another dead giveaway. While I might be a bit more forthright than most, I
think all of us from the mountains of East Tennessee/Southwest Virginia/Western North Carolina have a
little bit of an edge. Our families for the most part didn’t come from money. They worked tobacco
farms and factories and coal mines. These salt-of-the-earth folks raised us to be humble, grateful and to
“do no harm but take no sh*t.” We were taught not to start a fight, but if pushed you better finish it.
We had to work hard for our educations in public school systems and stand up to bullies on the school
bus. Most of us couldn’t rely on family names when it came time for careers. So while other girls who
go on dates with these suitors might politely smile and nod while changing the subject, I’m quick to call
a date on his crap. I’m not a jerk about it, but I don’t pussyfoot around. If you’re wrong, we’re gonna
talk about it.
By no stretch of the imagination would I call myself sporty or outdoorsy, but I’m not above getting my
hands dirty. I’m not deterred by getting rained on and for the most part I can handle my fair share of
creepy crawlies and critters. When you’re raised along the path of the Appalachian Trail, much of your
adolescence is spent outdoors. In my teenage years we would sneak away in caves or dive headfirst off
cliffs into the lake. We would hike to swimming holes, and as a kid we played in the woods with nothing
but our imaginations to accompany us. I think when a man sees a blonde girl in heels and a face full of
makeup he assumes she’s going to be uptight or snotty. But the fact of the matter is, if I can handle
going muddin’ and risk breaking my neck on a rope swing, I can have fun in a grimy dive bar or in the sun
at a sporting event. Us mountain girls look prettier without makeup anyway.
There are many times my background makes me a bit uncomfortable. Sometimes I feel like I don’t fit in
anywhere- my dreams and goals are too big for Tri-Cities, but my beliefs and upbringing are too small for
Nashville. Sometimes it’s a lonely feeling when no one else understands. But more often than not, I
enjoy it. My life story makes me unique, and that’s never a bad thing. If nothing else, at least I’m
memorable! I’m proud of who I am, where I come from and the path it’s taken to get me here. And it’s
also good to know that any man who doesn’t appreciate that is only about 3 drinks and 1 snide
comment away from finding out just how tough a small town girl can be.