Things I have learned in Tuscaloosa, Alabama

I am abroad—well, in the sense that I am in a place I don’t usually call “home.” My friend from school—my Word Count Friend; I’ll call her DR for short—asked me a couple months ago if I wanted to go home with her during Spring Break. I’m always looking for new places to go and new things to do, so I said yes. So far I’m loving the experience, not because it’s so different from home (it’s not), but because of the people here and the excitement that is the city of Tuscaloosa. I am learning quite a bit, and I thought I’d share some of my new, shiny knowledge.

1. Bama football is everything. Roll Tide.
2. The name “Tuscaloosa” means “Black Warrior.”
3. Sweet tea isn’t a drink; it’s a way of life that involves a little bit of tea and a lot of sugar.
4. If I lived here I would be 800 pounds.
5. It’s amazing that DR’s not 800 pounds.
6. The phrase “Roll Tide” works in every situation.
7. Sometimes, three-year-olds put butter on cats.
8. Sometimes, those three-year-olds grow up to be seven-year-olds who mistake the family cat for a burglar and tell the elderly neighbors to “get their guns.”
9. There are not hoedowns on every corner, as some people assume.
10. DR was not exaggerating when she stressed how much football is the mayor, the president, and the subcommittee of this town.
11.Brittany Spaniels are very energetic and will cover you in saliva every chance they get.
12. Cats can have personality disorders.
13. Driving in Tuscaloosa is like participating in a NASCAR race.
14. Paul “Bear” Bryant could have been the king of Tuscaloosa and he wouldn’t have been more well-loved.
15. The local meteorologist is an Emmy-winning celebrity and has his own Wikipedia page. It’s amazing how much these people talk about James Spann.
16. A spoonful of sugar will cure the hiccups.
17. Clifford exists!
18. The University of Alabama has more than fifteen stoplights and there is a whole building just for English studies (and DR loves the fact that I’m fascinated by this).
19. You could fit a herd of elephants in DR’s high school (haha—get it?), and that one “was small.”
20. Shot glasses are called “toothpick holders” by the people in university merchandise stores, because Alabama is “no longer a party school.”
21. I may or may not have a life twin from Tuscaloosa.
22. “Fantasy is The Doctor of literature: the alien that turns out to be the most human of all.” – DR
23. Family drama is everywhere.
24. Family photos are the same everywhere you go: fond memories and cute babies doing silly, cute things; nostalgia, sometimes painful; love for the past and hope for the future.
25. The people here talk to you like they’ve known you all their lives. DR’s parents welcomed me into the fold just as though I was one of their own children. I found myself wanting to tell them my whole life story.
26. These people would give you the shirts off their backs if you asked, and probably even if you didn’t. DR’s mom gave me a pair of fuzzy socks to wear at night in case I got cold.
27. Time stamps come in terms of “before The Tornado” and “after The Tornado.”
28. After The Tornado, tornadoes come up in every conversation, even ones about dogs and gardening.
29. Even giant florescent cacti instigate talk about tornadoes. “We’re coming back!”
30. The Tornado is a theoretical lens that cannot be removed from the gazes of the people of Tuscaloosa, but they have bounced back and are some of the most resilient people I have ever met.

31. Roll Tide

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