If you’ve clicked around the site, you’ve probably seen me mention that I grew up in Florida and am currently living in New England. Full disclosure: My family is from New England originally—so I had an idea of what I was getting into when I agreed to move here. That being said, there are just some things I could NOT plan for. I thought it would be fun to share some things I’ve learned over the last few years vs. some things I’ve had to explain.
1. The Driving
Just, all of it. Driving up here is no joke. On highways, drivers tend to be on the aggressive side. In smaller cities, not all the roads were initially built for cars—creating strange traffic patterns. NE drivers have no issue going off-roading to get around you if you’re trying to take a left and are holding up traffic. They will also give the bird fairly indiscriminately. I am not sure if this is a coincidence or not, but I’ve literally been rear ended twice in the last few years. Both times while I was stopped at lights.
2. McDonald’s Sells Lobster Rolls
Yup. Only during the Summer, but still. I have yet to try one, but the thought that they’re there is both intriguing and entertaining. I did find this review online. Not the most favorable, but it’s still on my culinary bucket list. In the South, it seems like lobster rolls were only served in nicer places with a price tag of about $30. Here? They’re everywhere. Even McDonald’s. I’ve also learned that HOW a lobster roll is prepared is a point of contention. They can either be prepared cold with mayonnaise (like a seafood salad), or hot with melted butter.
3. The Seasons and Weather
I knew New England would have more variation in seasons than Florida. Before moving, I used to consider Christmas a mid-winter holiday. Now, it’s more of a kick-off to several months of cold. I did not know that it could stay cold and snow into May. I also did not fully realize that Spring weather is kind of a crapshoot—one day it’s 70 and sunny, the next it’s 50 and raining.
In general, I get a kick out of accents. All of them. I think it’s cool that where you grow up and live throughout your life can impact your manner of speaking. Overall, I do not have a Southern accent, except on a few words. However, it’s been pointed out to me several times that I pronounce some words differently than people do up here. One is that people, particularly Rhode Islanders, pronounce my home state “Flahrida” instead if “Floorida.” And, don’t even get me started on having to decipher a heavy Boston accent. You can see some examples (and references to driving/traffic) here.
5. The Rush Hour Traffic
I grew up in a relatively small tourist town. There wasn’t usually a ton of traffic, except during tourist season. Let me tell you, I was not prepared for rush hour traffic up here. When we first moved, I worked about ten minutes from home—without traffic. It was a quick, straight shot up a local highway. During rush hour, it would take me 30-35 minutes of driving in bumper-to-bumper traffic. My first day driving to work was kind of a shock, to say the least.
1. “Bless Your Heart”
If a Southern woman starts a sentence by blessing someone’s heart, you know they’re about to say something rude. But, it’s not mean because she blessed them first! This is just not a thing in New England. I’ve found that people tend to be much more direct.
2. Mardi Gras
In the South, Mardi Gras is a THING. I have yet to see a Mardi Gras parade up here. I asked around about it at work and discovered that my co-workers had never even heard of a king cake. I ordered one online and had it shipped here. I then had to explain that traditionally, king cakes have a naked plastic baby inside the cake, and whoever gets the baby has good luck for the year. Pretty sure they’re still puzzled by the baby part, but I think they’re king cake fans now.
Curious about the baby? Check out this post from Better Homes & Gardens. It explains it pretty well.
3. Chicken & Waffles
A Southern staple. I love Chicken & Waffles so much, it was a menu option at our wedding. You can find it at some restaurants up here, but it’s not nearly as ubiquitous as it is in the South. I’ve had to explain the appeal on more than one occasion.
4. People Riding in the Beds of Pick-Up Trucks
This something I used to see a LOT of. It was not uncommon to see five, even six people crammed into the bed of a pick-up truck. I would even see it on highways! I have not seen this since moving. Literally, not once. Note: I absolutely do not condone this. Please don’t try it then say I told you to.
In the South, generally, everyone older than you was either a ma’am or sir, and you addressed them as such. Even strangers. If someone asked you a question, it was never a yes or no answer. It was “Yes, ma’am/sir” or “No, ma’am/sir.” I’ve heard “sir” a few times since moving, but have not heard “ma’am” once.