Editor’s Note: See Jane Write now publishes personal essays by writers who identify as women, non-binary folks, and our allies. Learn more here.
By Katie Matthews
“You’re either from Scotland or America,” she guessed as I passed around the after-school snacks. I was the newest employee of the daycare program, hired primarily because I had a valid driver’s license and a clear background check. Even though my entire driving career had taken place on the opposite side of the road up to that point, I found myself piloting a bus of a dozen young kids through roundabouts and past kangaroo crossing signs to the daycare center each day.
When I moved to Perth, Australia, two things became immediately clear: few Aussies knew where my home state was, and fewer understood me when I used my most beloved pronoun, Y’all. I switched cold turkey to “You guys” and learned to identify Alabama as being “just above Florida.” I figured most people pictured Georgia by this description but decided that was close enough.
My short time in Australia helped me better contextualize my identity as a Southerner. They weren’t very familiar with the state, much less the stigmas associated with it. It was freeing for me not to have to follow up where I’m from with an immediate qualifier. “I’m from Alabama and yes we have shoes and running water.” I roll my eyes at the stereotypes, but still, I have never been particularly proud to be from the South.
When I began my writing career, it was a skeleton in my closet.(more…)