People get married everyday. Some folks are old, some middle aged, some young adults. In fact, the average age for a woman to get married in the United States is 27 years old. That is not crazy, in fact, it makes logical sense for people to wait until their late twenties to get married because they are more financially stable as well as more mature. However, it seems to me that women in the South get married much younger than anywhere else. My mom married my dad when she was twenty and he was twenty-three. That may sound very young, but it is not that unusual. I have been in college for three and a half years and the wave of people I went to high school with getting engaged has only just begun. A few girls got married right out of high school, but that was less common. Now, though, it seems like every week someone new is engaged. And I am a part of the epidemic! One of my teachers actually brought this topic up in class one day. He is from the North, and he said he found it very different than what he was used to. He said that every semester he has at least one or two girls in his classes that are engaged. For me, though, it is not strange to be engaged so young because I have been with my fiance for over five years. While yes it is a trend in the South to marry young, I think it has something to do with the fact that a lot of people start dating young and date the same person forever. Also in the South family is a huge deal and a woman is expected to be a good wife and mother. A long time ago women were married very very young and maybe since the South has a tendency to be rooted in tradition, that tradition never died. It just is the norm to marry young. However, there is a certain stigma behind it. Some women did in the past (and some still do) go to college just to find a man to marry. People call that getting an MRS degree. Hardy har har. Right after I got engaged and posted it on Facebook (like you do) one of my old guy friends who happens to go to Alabama commented on it and said something along the lines of, way to get that MRS degree Erica. And that really hit a nerve with me because I went to college to get an education and I should not have to apologize for also planning a future for myself. But I digress. I think women in the South are taught at a young age that it is okay to want to get married young, and so the pattern continues. I do not think that women getting married young is exclusive to the South by any means. It just seems, to me, to be a prevalent pattern.
The term “Southern Hospitality” is something that people all over the country use to describe the warm, friendly feeling you get in the South when you interact with most strangers. Everywhere I go people hold doors open for others without a second thought. We are taught to use good manners when dealing with people in our everyday lives. I know that as a young girl I was taught to always say “Yes, ma’am” and “No, sir” when speaking to adults. This small piece of instruction instilled in me as a youngster has stayed with me throughout my entire life. Even now, when I interact with men or women (whether they are older than me or not) I always address them as ma’am or sir. I have also noticed that many of my friends and relatives have the same manners. I have cousins who were born and raised in Chicago, and they do not speak with the same manners as my brother and I do. I never really noticed the difference in our mannerisms until last Christmas break when we all went out for dinner and my brother and I addressed the waitress with a polite “Yes, ma’am” while our male cousin was very short and somewhat rude to our waiter. He also made a comment about how he thought it was strange that my brother held the door open for the people entering the restaurant before us. I thought it was very interesting that even though we are closely related, we had very different ideas about the types of manners that were appropriate in this restaurant situation. I love the fact that whenever I am walking around campus and enter a building behind someone, they automatically hold the door until I reach out to hold it myself. I always say thank you. It is just an implied interaction that pretty much everyone follows as normal. When I went to New York for Christmas a few years ago, I was quite displeased with the lack of community feel. It didn’t seem like anyone cared about anyone else. No one held a door for me or anything else that I was used to from back home. I love the way that at home in the South, everyone seems to be a part of a real community instead of just a bunch of people living in the same area. I love that one of the things we are known for is our “Southern Hospitality”. A lot of my family is from the North and I know that they all think of the South as a friendly place and love to visit us down here. I am definitely going to raise my children with the idea of Southern Hospitality instilled in them. I want my children to be incredibly polite and know how to navigate the world. I think that the tradition of “Yes, ma’am” will continue in the South as long as people continue to raise their children in this tradition. One of my favorite sayings is, Say what you will about the South, but nobody retires and moves up North.
It seems like the whole country is coming out of an economical struggle finally yet the South is still at the bottom of the map. New York or Los Angelus of course still has plenty of options to thrive economically, depression or not. The Southern states, with more land than we know what to do with, can not recover as long as the real estate market stays in a constant struggle. Also minimum wage seems to be a joke as well. No one can successfully live in the United States of America with these disrespectful wages paid to the hard working majority body of the citizens. The upper class slaves the poverty stricken or near-poverty stricken people of America. They work us to further pad their pockets and bank accounts full of millions and billions of dollars and pay each worker a mere sixteen thousand to eighteen thousand a year. That barely allows the person to eat or much less afford a decent means of transportation to go back and make the rich upper class corporations. With the majority of the South being a rural area and extremely high populated cities not found often down here, jobs are rare to find in a town that does not need many resources as a high populated metropolis. We do not need sixty Starbucks to employ people in the towns. We do not need four times the amount of fast food restaurants to employ people. We do not need as many teachers, police officers, firemen, paramedics, doctors, or even Wal-Mart employees. You get the idea, the population in the majority of the southern states does not need as much catering to or resources provided nor do we have the capital to invest in all of those perks. Our economy is going to continue to struggle as long as more people are born in the South and less people have job oppurtunities. The government “shutdown” today lays even more people off of their positions which furthers the unemployment rate currently. It seems likes the direct basics and fundamentals of our country known today needs a change. The South should also be invigorated with money from the hot spot cities. We just are not provided a money earning opportunity in Memphis. Even after college you have to move somewhere else to earn a living in this cold world. Memphis is supposed to be a larger city in the South of the United States and we are one of the poorest economically in the country. The South tends to get overlooked due to them thinking we love the simplicity of open land and farms. Not true for everyone and they deserve the same opportunities as everyone else. The small cities in the South are just stuck where they are with no income and scarce resources. Poverty is real in the South and as long as the rich stay rich in this country then all of the working class will continue to be screwed until something changes. We do not want to continue to be enslaved by money that we never keep a dime of in the South.