Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Clearly Stated

I’m taking time out of my busy schedule to provide, as a public service, a geography lesson that the world sorely needs. You know how there are some places in the world whose names you've heard, but you don’t quite know where they are? Like Tajikistan  and Burkina Faso and Liechtenstein? Well, today is your lucky day. After this lesson you’ll have added an obscure place to your body of knowledge. You’ll know where it is and, even better, you’ll know where it is not. The place? South Carolina.

About five years ago Frank and I bought 29 acres in rural South Carolina. Frank was from South Carolina, and we figured we’d eventually build a home here when were ready to retire. And ever since then, I’ve had to explain, over and over, that we were moving to South Carolina, not North Carolina.

Apparently when I say “South Carolina” most people hear “North Carolina”. I’d be a wealthy woman if I had a dime for every time I told someone I was moving to South Carolina and he said, “Oh, my brother-in-law went to Wake Forest (in North Carolina)/Chapel Hill (a branch of the University of North Carolina)/Duke (also in North Carolina).” Or she said, “I love Ashville/Charlotte/Raleigh-Durham (all cities in North Carolina).” South Carolina is not the home of your cousin’s favorite sports team, the Hurricanes, the Panthers or the Sting. And South Carolina is most certainly not the bastion of vinegar-based bar-b-que sauce.

News bulletin, my friends: There are two US states with the word “Carolina” in their names. They were named for Britain’s King Charles I. North Carolina is like the more popular, outgoing sister, the one who was the cheerleader and the prom queen. But South Carolina is real. It has an Atlantic coast. It's between Georgia and North Carolina. It boasts beautiful cities like Charleston and Columbia and Greenville. It's home to two national forests, numerous national parks, many Revolutionary War and Civil War battlefields, and historic sites galore. You just have to stop, and look around, and seek out South Carolina.

I’m beginning to think South Carolinians are partially to blame for this confusion. They don’t toot the South Carolina horn much. I think they prefer that when people hear “South Carolina” they head a few miles north to Wilmington or Winston-Salem or Greensboro. They relish the idea that South Carolina is less well-known, and they can keep it all to themselves.

But you are welcome to visit. Just be sure that when you come to see me you turn right, not left when you get to Knoxville.

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