Sometimes, even going “home” to the USA can be confusing. Last week I went to Lynchburg, Virginia to be a bridesmaid in my dear friend Kristina’s wedding. A typical Northerner, I thought to myself, “Virginia. I’ve been there. Arlington, Washington, D.C.*, yup, I can do Virginia, I am American“.
And then I spent the majority of the weekend experiencing culture shock. Because Lynchburg is something like the Deep South for this Pennsylvanian/Ontarian. Two things that kept surprising me the whole weekend were people’s southern accents (so lovable!), and how friendly everyone was–especially strangers, cashiers, etc. Seriously people: culture shock.
For example, on the first morning we headed out to breakfast at Cracker Barrel. If you don’t know about Cracker Barrel, get yourself to the US of A and have a taste of deliciousness. Anyway. I was trying to order apple struesel french toast (YUM!) and a cup of decaf tea.
Waitress: (In a southern accent) Okay, Love, what about you? Coffee?
Me: Actually, do you have decaf tea?
Waitress: Cold or hot, darling?
Me: Uhm. (Did we resolve the decaf issue? Are we talking about tea?)
Kristina’s Mom Who Is From the South: Amelia, do you want iced tea or hot tea?
Me: Oh. Hot tea. Yes. Hot. Can I have decaf?
Waitress: Why of course, darling!
As I sat bewildered by our exchange, Kristina’s Mom explained that the default is iced tea, so you have to specify. (Seriously, it’s morning and I’m ordering decaffeinated beverages, have mercy!)
The next day, at the rehearsal dinner, the groom proudly announced that his sister made the cake for dessert.
Me: What kind of cake did he say?
Bridesmaid from Florida: Cheerwine.
Bridesmaid from Florida: You know, cheerwine.
Me: I have no idea what that is.
Bridesmaid from Florida: You don’t know cheerwine? It’s like a cherry mountain dew.
Me: But it’s a cake?
Apparently, you use pop (soda in Virginia) called Cheerwine, to make a cake.
Although I was skeptical (‘you use pop to make a cake?’) it was actually quite moist, sweet and cherry-y.
In the midst of the large portion sizes and terms of endearment from strangers (‘love’, ‘honey’, ‘dear’, ‘sweetheart’–I almost didn’t notice Varun was absent!), we had an awesome time. The bride and groom were bursting with love, the food was delicious, the weather was perfect.
I was reminded this week how big and diverse the USA is. Who knew that just 12 hours south of Ontario is a land of Chick Fil A, sweet tea and friendly cashiers?
*I realize D.C. isn’t VA, but it always ends up that my trips to DC include VA and MD…