When I was younger, before I was your Aunt Becky and before I had a Ben, an Alex or even a Daver, and especially before gas cost the equivalent of a mortgage payment I used to unwind by taking an aimless drive. I’d fill up the tank of my del Sol, grab a pack or three of cigarettes and hit the road, listening to my CD’s and letting it all go.

There was, and still is, something magical about driving aimlessly to nowhere in particular, nothing on my mind but whatever song was playing on the stereo, and just existing. Just complete peace. It’s something I dearly miss about my old life, and something I hope to get back into when my kidlets grow up. I love them both tremendously, but having them squack at me from the backseat would lose a bit of the luster, I imagine, so I don’t take them.

Since I live in the northern part of Illinois, the easiest place for me to follow country roads is down South. It’s crazy how much difference in attitude there is down there and that always makes me desperately yearn to move down there. It doesn’t matter if I leave the state or not, the South is just so much more welcoming than the North is. I’ll never know if it’s the last remnants of the war or the vast amount of moonshine, but people down South are just different.

Now, the Midwest, where I lay my head at night is great, don’t get me wrong, but it conjures up images farmland, cows, and girls with thick ankles. And I’m flanked by the most boring states in existence: Wisconsin, Indiana, and….Ohio? Iowa? Not sure, as my geography skills are sorely lacking (along, truth be told with my spelling, punctuation, and fraction skills). Either way, none of those states make me go “YES, let’s go to…INDIANA!” not because they’re bad or anything, but just because there’s not much there to be pumped about.

Down South, there are plenty of exotic locals: Georgia, Tennessee, Louisiana, each with something new! and exciting! for a Yank like me. It’s alluring to me somehow, all of these locals, each full of nice people who may talk a bit slowly for my liking, but sweet and interesting nonetheless.

I’ll probably never understand the allure of Sweet Tea and probably always get a little sick from Barbeque (especially BBQ Spaghetti. What.the.fuck?), but since the North isn’t holding much in the way of appealing to me these days, I’m going to take a mental road-trip down South, past the Mason-Dixon Line (where that is, I’ll never know).

Who knows, maybe I’ll actually go down South one of these nights after The Daver is home to watch the sleeping kids and revisit my glory days when nothing much mattered except for the song on the radio.

Right about now, that sounds phenomenal.



39 Responses to A Southern State Of Mind

  • b says:

    Come on down to Texas. I’ll make you some sweet tea, we’ll head to the beach..and you can smoke cigarrettes while we drink beer and listen to the radio. BBQ spaghetti? That’s fucked up..where the hell did you go that had BBQ spaghetti? You know noone does BBQ like a Texan..right?

  • kalakly says:


  • andria says:

    Girl, you haven’t eaten the right BBQ if it’s making you sick. I don’t even like meat, but the right BBQ is pure heaven. There isn’t much I like about Texas, but they sure did get the BBQ right.

  • g says:

    I will let you borrow my husband’s Put a Little South in your Mouth tshirt. That should help.

    (It’s from a restaurant called Wife Savers in GA)

    I puffy heart the south.

  • KC says:

    Come on down to my Grandparent’s house with me this weekend. Thier place is full of Antiques Roadshow treasures and they live in the middle of nowhere. They talk slow – cook fried food like it’s their job and live off of a gravel road.

    That outta nip your craving in the bud. Let me tell you – I love my grandparents, but it’s boring as hell down there.

  • Rachel B. says:

    I echo Andria’s comment. If it makes you sick, it ain’t the right kind of barbecue. I’ve lived in the South all my life. I love getting out of it every now and again, but I love coming home to it even more. Mainly because I can have a degree in English and still say “ain’t.” Y’all come visit.

  • Oh My God!!

    I am so with you, right now.. . .

    Need to be anywhere but here . . .anywhere that is quiet . ..so my mind can drift . ..

    Up for a roadtrip? (lol)

    But if we go any “Souther” from here . . .we’ll be in Mexico . . .

    I’ll have your sweet tea waiting? 🙂

  • Leslee says:

    DUDE. I used to aimlessly drive ALL.THE.TIME. I even got a boyfriend of mine into it and we would routinely drive to Canada just for the hell of it. I haven’t done that in years… *sigh* Hell, it’s probably a good thing that I don’t just drive aimlessly now a days. I’d prolly just keep on goin! o_O

  • Katy says:

    Every once in a while I feel the need to go South. See family. My grandfather spoke slow and meticulous. He always said to me “Hunny….slowwwww…dowwwwn” I miss him. HE and my grandmother made the best gumbo ever. Sunday I had a “hankering” for Red Beans n Rice. My kids said it looked like vomit. My husband and I enjoyed it. Everything in New Orleans (where my family is) is slower, sexier, hotter, more humid, more lively, and just freer. I think it’s time for a trip.

  • Karen says:

    I’ll ride with you. Kind of Thelma and Louise…without the suicide part. I have a fantasy of getting a Winebego and just driving with some friends. Just seems like fun.

  • My boys “squack” from the backseat all the time, I just never knew what to call it. Thank you, for assigning it a name.

    Much squacked upon,
    ~Bill (not Jill)

    P.s. Found you via the list.

  • kbreints says:

    Yeah– I’ve done the southern state thing and I suppose b/c of that I am able to apreciate the non-alure of Iowa (which borders illinois) … I love it … what I love most about it? People don’t want to move here. I seriously got burned out on all the F-ing people when I lived in Atlanta… and I can only take it in small doses now.

  • What in the hell is BBQ spegetti?? I live about 20 miles south of Savannah,GA and let me tell you I have NEVER heard of that!! But,sweet tea!?? Yummy! The south will welcome you anyday!!

  • Surcie says:

    I’m in NC. Never heard of BBQ spaghetti–because here, bbq is boneless smoked pork, “pulled” or chopped fine, eaten on a bun or off, with ‘slaw on top, and a thin spicy/sweet sauce. And hushpuppies with honeybutter. Yes, some sweet tea is basically sugary water. But the good stuff is wonderful. (I like mine with lemon and mint.)

  • Come to Georgia, land of rednecks and peaches! I’ll have beer and various boozes at ready, we can all get drunk and ride a llama!

    BBQ Sketti? WTF?!?!

  • Heather says:

    Look, if you’re taking folks up on their offers and heading to Texas, you may as well stop over in TN on your way down and visit with me for awhile. No BBQ, though; we have it, I just don’t do it. I do, however, have enough sweet tea to float you! We can hit the mountains, go for a hike, and take in the Grand Ol’ Opry in Nashville. That should give you your feel of the volunteer state.

    I fully expect room and board when I head up to Chicago one day!

  • tash says:

    Husband spent some serious time in Little Rock, and I flew down pretty much for conjugal visits involving vast amounts of bbq. Mmmmm.

  • kate says:

    van morrison would be who i’d sing along with on that roadtrip.

    and bbq spaghetti…everyone’s aunt maria from roma is turning in her grave. blech.

  • MsPrufrock says:

    I don’t drive over here and I miss it tremendously. Even if I did the lustre would be somewhat worn off if a moaning little person was in the backseat, as you say.

    I’m all nostalgic thanks to this post. Maaaaannn…if you go, I go!

  • Ames says:

    Oh how I would love to go for a drive down south right about now. Visit the fam in TN, get me some sweet tea… not so sure about BBQ Spaghetti though… do people really eat that?

  • honeywine says:

    Driving with the radio up and the windows down on a warm summer moonlit night, is there anything better? NEVER!

  • Jenn says:

    Have I told you lately that I love you? ‘Cause I do.

    I miss taking loooong drives by myself too. Maybe someday we can meet in the middle (between the place where you are and the place where I am, I mean) and drive down south together. Of course then neither of us would be alone but hey, I’m not so bad.

    And… how do you barbecue spaghetti?

  • Cassie says:

    Before I got pregnant, summer nights were always full of driving with the windows down, the radio up, and a cigarette in one hand, and usually involved other girl friends and loud singing too 🙂 I do believe that is what backroads were made for.

  • Denise says:

    Screw the south. Head up to the northwoods of WI, so we can hang together and enjoy some frosty beverages. 😉

    If you can’t take a long drive, enjoy the drive to Target or wherever. Roll down the windows, crank some Prince, and sing & dance while you drive. It makes a person feel better, it really does.

  • Kristen says:

    I think that a drive like that would be a fabulous idea. I have only been driving for a year and so regret all those years of cheap gas and long drives I wasted!
    Last spring when we were going through a terrible time, my dh told me to take a few days away and so I did. I just got in the van and drove. I drove and cried and drove and sang at the top of my lungs, it was fabulously therapeutic.
    do what you need to girl.

  • shay says:

    I love the aimless driving too. My parents used to take us for a “drive” when we were kids. It was like torture but now I love it and do it to my kids lol. PAYBACK!

    I’d love to see more of the Southern States. I’ve been to TX but not for long and no random driving. Sounds wonderful!

  • mandy says:

    I know those drives. I miss them. I want to have just a tiny piece of that, back. You made me really miss it.

    I really know what you mean. I came from VA, near D.C. and moved to NC. At first, the difference was amazing. I mean, people got out of your way when you drive in the left lane WITHOUT horns and flashing lights! NICE, they are just nice. THey are brought up that way. Sweet Tea is HUGE here. huge. I don’t get that either. BUT, after a while, it kind of just blends together. UNTIL, you go back home. Then you SEE what FRIGGIN JERKS you used to live near. There is no word for it, except maybe, gratefulness…to be down south. I love it. And Traffic? Don’t get me started.

  • Lainey-Paney says:

    sweet tea sucks.
    I’ve never heard of BBQ spaghetti.

    …but Texas is a wonderful place to be.
    According to my midwestern best friend: everyone in Texas has a gun! (in my family, that seems to be true…) Another thing: we like our gas-guzzling big trucks. The “cowboy cadillacs” if you will….
    Yes, I’ve been to Southfork Ranch.
    Yes, we all talk like that.
    And, no, I’m not certain who shot JR.

    Drive to Texas. See you in 2 days.

  • heather says:

    Nobody make BBQ or sweet tea like you find in the south (including here in boring ass ohio 😉 but you could get yourself some tea from Mcds, sit in the car in the driveway, listen to some tunes, drink the tea and at least pretend you’re there. I actually do something similar myself. If I am craving food from a particular restaurant (say Cracker Barrel, Sonny’s BBQ, or just chinese) I will make some food that reminds me of it (like chicken and dumplings from CB) and have an entire theme dinner. My husband laughs, but I’ve gotten good at it.

    When I was about 18, I worked at a park on the Ohio River that had cheap parking. We were on the edge of Downtown Cincinnati, and people who worked there would sometimes pay to park there. I would see a green del Sol parked there all the time, and to this day, I still want one of those!

  • Jenn says:

    Come to Mississhitty and you can have al of the sweet tea that you want. It’s a staple here in my house 🙂 And BBQ Spaghetti – that’s some NASTY shit!

  • Victoria says:

    Git your ass down here to NC – where we’ll explain sweet tea (yum) and sample BBQ at our local festival (even yummer). Then we’ll hop in the convertible with some moonshine and head to the mountains or the outer banks.

    You pick. No squackers.

    BBQ psghetti? WTH??

  • kim says:

    I just wish I could come with.

    I need it…badly, and I could help with the driving.

  • Kyddryn says:

    C’mon bye – I’ll whip up some half-sweet tea and..erm…OK, so I don’t cook barbecue. That’s what Shayne’s Rib Shack or Bonedaddy’s are for. I’ll take you there.

    Mum and I used to hop into the Olds Cutlass Supreme convertible, roll the top back, throw in some CDs and pick a direction. I miss those days – being a mum now myself, I can’t exactly pick up and leave on a whim…now it’s more like planning troop movements through Europe during WWII. Sigh.

    Still…you come down any time and I’ve got crash space for ya, and I can manage to whip up something mildly southern even if I AM a transplant (more than twenty years ago, but still).

    Shade and Sweetwater,

  • As American as Apple Pie says:

    As someone who has fairly recently moved to the South, I LOVE IT! I love the weather, the attitude, the people, the BBQ (where in God’s name did you have BBQ spaghetti?!). I hate sweet tea but you can get unsweet everywhere so it’s ok. The only problem are the stupid drivers. It’s insane. Oh, and the Rednecks that crawl out of the woodwork for NASCAR races. But other than that, I feel the most at home here as I have ever felt. And that includes the home I grew up in for 20 years.

  • Sara says:

    Aimless driving must be a midwest thing. I’m from Indiana and we used to do that all the time. Once, we even drove around till we found a blinking light, and it was in a little “town” called “Walnut Grove”. How much more midwest is that?!

  • Deb says:

    I’m so very much extremely 100% with you on the aimless driving, CD and cigarette.

    Although I don’t smoke anymore, something about that picture you evoked make me long for a road trip smoky treat.

    And by way of intro: I found you via a funny comment you made on another blog, which I cannot remember at this time. I see you are also funny with the non-comments!

  • Dr. Grumbles says:

    The Mason Dixon Line forms the northern border of Maryland. So, strangely (to me), DC is below the MD Line.

    I hate sweet tea. But I’ll eat fried alligator and boiled crawfish.

  • Wendy says:

    I cannot tell you how much you made me miss those good ‘ol “going nowhere” drives! I live in GA and grew up in a rural town of about 3500…I can’t tell you how many times I actually got a little lost on some country back road because I was not paying a bit of attention to where I was going…only to what was on the radio.

    Oh, and we Southerners would love to have ya whenever you feel froggy enough to mosey on down for a visit!

  • Kat says:

    I’ll never understand sweet tea either…..

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