I was born and raised in Florida and I’ve lived in the South for my whole life.
If you’re not familiar with the area, you probably wouldn’t think of Florida as being southern. But if you wander into the panhandle of Florida, the accents and the tea are just about as sweet as they come.
So when we moved to suburban Atlanta, I didn’t expect a noticeable difference.
But, oh my word and bless my heart, I am daily finding new things to love about small town life in north Georgia.
- Shopping at Walmart is a pleasant experience. Let’s just let that sink in a bit. The staff members are very sweet and helpful. The shelves are stocked and organized. The bathrooms are clean. During my first trip to the closest store, the gentleman I checked out with told me proudly if I came back during the day, there would be 12 lanes open. TWELVE!!
- Neighborhoods are communities. That might sound redundant at first. But really, how often is a community also a community in the truest sense of the word? Our new neighborhood is full of neighbors doing life together. Everyone knows which kids belong to which parents. They know when Mr. Jones’ arthritis is acting up and they send their kids over to rake his leaves. They know when the Smiths are out of town and they make sure to check on the house and water the plants. When we first moved in, the worst thing said about any of the neighbors was that so-and-so keeps to herself and you won’t see her much.
- Friday Night Lights shine super bright out here. Our first weekend here, we wanted to grab some dinner with our family before they headed back to Florida. Our quick search on Google maps showed a place just ten minutes down the road. About halfway there, we got stuck in a line of cars that stretched as far as we could see. I was sure there must have been a horrific accident up ahead to put traffic at such a standstill. Eventually, we crept far enough along to see that every bit of that traffic was for the local high school football game. I rolled down my window and could hear the drumline drumming and the cheerleaders chanting off in the distance. My flashback took me right past my own high school days of drumlines and cheerleading to my elementary school years when we’d get popcorn and hot chocolate and cozy up under a blanket on the cold bleachers to cheer on the kid from down the street and the girl from Sunday School.
- There are more public parks than I could ever visit in a lifetime. I think I pass three just in the four miles to take the kids to school. Parks with playgrounds. Parks with rivers. Parks with fields for kites and soccer. Parks with bike trails. Parks with gazebos. Parks with historic covered bridges. Parks with lakes and creeks for rock hopping. Parks with all of the above. I’ve learned to just take my camera with me wherever we go because I just never know when there might be a perfect background for a photo of my very annoyed children.
- Everyone is so so so nice. Seriously. Everyone. I have not met one grumpy person yet. The mail carrier. The bank teller. The bus driver. The grocery bagger. Everyone. They have all been friendly, positive and kind. When you’re having a rough day, it makes such a huge difference. It’s contagious! It makes you want to be friendlier, more positive, and kinder to others. Even the no trespassing signs here are polite. “No trespassing!! THIS MEANS YOU!!!! Thank you.”
I’m excited to see how all of these things are going to encourage me to grow. I’m hoping to be a better neighbor. I want to be more invested in my community. I want my family to spend more time outdoors enjoying this beautiful area. I want to be the kind of person who can inspire kindness in others.
And if Walmart can keep its bathrooms clean with a happy face then, daggum it, so can I!