I think I am getting a Southern accent. I listen to myself talk and I notice that my speech has slowed down. Now, admittedly, this is in part because in order for anyone to understand you here in the south, you have to slow down. My New-York-speak is just too fast. But I still detect a hint of a lilt---something lighter—something that has taken the roughness out of my “r-r-rochestaaar.”
It is funny. Because where I live no one is truly Southern. The majority of my neighbors are from the Northeast. My Starbucks in Charlotte is full of out-of-towners this morning – as it is every morning (and I would know). The couple from my left are – maybe Indian. They are English speaking, and having an intellectual conversation about something—I would listen but I can’t hear them over the couple to my right. The couple to the right of me are loud-talkers. She is from Silicon Valley. He is from Connecticut. They are both in real estate and are having an intense conversation about flipping houses. We have a bunch (6) of bankers in the corner. They have been bogarting the couch seating (and the one good power outlet) for about an hour with something that resembles a team meeting…surely something that would be better suited for a conference room, but I can’t blame them for taking the meeting out of what is undoubtedly a cubicle farm, and into the warm, festive, aromatic embrace of Starbucks.
The dude with the table-top baby is here. He always is too – reading the paper, sipping his coffee and chatting with the infant, who is probably about 5 months old now. The kid has now been to Starbucks over 100 times to my calculation and never been able to enjoy a latte.
Two architects behind me are here chatting about building codes and then there are a few sales people typing on their laptops, enjoying a respite from cold-calls and proposal presentations.
My point – none really, except that not one of the people here sounds “Southern.” But it is eclectic. And that is what I like about this area. It is eclectic, accepting, moving, and progressive. It is not the South that my Upstate NY friends picture. I think they would be surprised at how fast the pace is here sometimes--even if the speech is slower. Of course, don’t go down to the DMV, post office or the gas station. There you will find the relaxed “Southern” lifestyle in full glory. And you will hear some excellent Southern accents too. Maybe that is where I am getting my drawl – because it certainly isn’t from the Starbucks.