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Isabel Swift wonders…do you make lists?

March 24, 2010 by in category Blogs tagged as , , , with 4 and 0
Home > Writing > Blogs > Isabel Swift wonders…do you make lists?

Well, in addition to “To Buy” lists or the more mundane “To Do” lists?

Years ago I created another kind of list & recently revived it. The summer after high school graduation, a girlfriend & I decided to travel and settled on hitchhiking around England for a month. In addition to planning our itinerary, we also developed The List (as it applied to the UK).

It contained things that we felt were quintessentially of the place, and enumerated things we wanted to have experienced before the holiday was over. The list “ingredients” didn’t have to be difficult to achieve; that wasn’t the issue. It was meant to measure what we felt was a true and full experience of a new environment.

I can’t remember the exact elements for the UK List, but it was things like:

1) eat fish & chips

2) see Buckingham Palace & the changing of the guards

3) drive in a London taxi cab

4) see someone in a kilt

5) visit a castle

6) see Shakespeare at Stratford-on-Avon

7) buy an umbrella

8) drive in a Rolls Royce

9) go to Hyde Park

10) be invited to tea…

You get the picture. We would argue and add things to the list as their quintessential-ness was discovered and determined.

Recently I went on a road trip with the same friend some 35+ years later. She lives in Alabama, so we went on a trip around the area. I found myself creating a list–it sort of was made as it happened instead of beforehand. But we argued through the essentialness of the ingredients, and I think we pulled together a good collection. I realize it is a girl list. You boys will just have to work on your own. Here it is:

The Deep South List:
1) Receive an Unsolicited Greeting
(i.e. hello) My friend didn’t think this should count as a key indicator of Southern-ness. I really had to explain that NO-ONE in New York would say hello to a stranger walking down the street–you’d think they were pan-handling.
2) Courtly Solicitation
#1 was men & women; this is just for women–Male interactions with females are often touched with a decorous flirtation, a sense of ‘Southern Charm,’ an awareness and appreciation of your femaleness, e.g. ‘I always stop for pretty girls,’ or have door held for you..

3) Bitten by Ants
Apparently, this is standard. I can vouch for it happening.

4) Drive on a dirt road; visit a farm/meet a farmer; wait for Cows to clear the road
The South has its share of cities and industry, but rural South seemed quintessentially Southern, not found elsewhere, and needed to be experienced. I didn’t get a photo of him, but our farmer was driving a tractor…not unlike the one pictured on the billboard below…

NC Tractorsign10'19'08

5) Roadside Attractions
One of the carved living tree in Tinglewood, ALA and Bourbon St. New Orleans, LA

    Tinglewood, Montevalla, ALA NO lapdance

6) Breakfast with Good Ole Boys, eat Grits with Unidentified butterlike substance
OK, he’s not a Good Ole Boy, he’s the god of the forge, Vulcan, who presides over Birmingham, ALA. Magnificent, isn’t he? And I know you’re distracted, but really, there’s no butter in the South. My grits came with a pat proudly announcing it was 40% margarine. It never told me what the other 60% was and I was too scared to ask….

    Vulcan Birmingham ALA 9'08

7) Tea: Sweet/Unsweet
Well, I may have to make an exception for New Orleans, where it was hard to find anyone who’d give me sweet tea–it was all DIY. You do have to specify “Hot tea” if that’s your preference, as tea = ice tea.
8) Being asked where you come from
Yes, this would also be on a California list–but it’s just not Northeast in my experience & always startles me & reminds me I am somewhere away from home. In some parts of the South, I am sure you are asked where you are going–i.e. which grave yard will you be joining–to better understand your status. Location, location, location.

Hilary NO Cemetary 9'08 NO Grave carving Moth 9'08

9) y’all

    10) Cotton fields
    Well, I hadn’t thought of posting while I was traveling, so didn’t take appropriate photos, just captured a few things that appealed. Here’s a a rather remarkable ironwork cornstalk fence in New Orleans.

      Cornstalk Fence NO 12'11'08.jpg

    11) Church signage with admonishions, instructions, information about Jesus
    I regret not having photographed some of the Church signage: you have to see it to get it. Here’s one man’s front yard sculpture–it captures some of the spirit.

      Crosses Hilary

    And here we are with our trusty black bug at the end of the trip. Think of the photo as modern art, creating a sense of immediacy and motion (and covering any bad hair or poor clothing choices).

    IS HM Car

    Since we created out list as we went, we were sure to accomplish every one.

    Do you make
    lists?

    Isabel Swift
    my blog

    4 Comments

    • Anonymous
      on April 3, 2010

      Gillian: Delicious!

      Jen: Thank you! And great point–it is like writing a book! It's planning a journey & thinking about what you want to do, see, experience along the way, which is a story. And of course there are literally "road trip" films and stories that can be really great. They're kind of like the fairy tales where the hero has to collect, or learn, or surmount certain things before s/he gets to finish the quest (and the HEA).

      Marianne: I bet you are just not writing down the funny bits that are hidden in your lists! It's all about perspective, isn't it!

    • Anonymous
      on March 28, 2010

      Planning a road trip prior to an RWA conference in NY, #1 on The List was Ben & Jerry's Headquarters in Vermont.

    • Anonymous
      on March 25, 2010

      What an fabulous trip! My lists tend to consist of what to get at the grocery store. I like your list better!

      As I read this, I was thinking it's so much like writing a book; make a list, argue about it, go on the journey, shift and tweak the list as needed along the way until The End.

      I'm still wondering what the other 60% of that pat of margarine was!

    • Anonymous
      on March 24, 2010

      I make lists, but boy are YOUR lists better and funnier.

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