THE ONE THAT GOT AWAY
I recently just read The One That Got Away by Leigh Himes and completely fell in love with the story line and the characters. I am thrilled to say that guest posting today is the author of the book, herself, Leigh Himes.
After All These Years Away, Am I Still Southern?
This year marks the year I will have lived longer in Pennsylvania than in my home state of North Carolina. It got me wondering—after so many years away, am I still a Southerner? Along with my a lot of my accent, have I lost my Southern-ness?
I’d like to think one’s heritage never expires. Even when it fades a bit, or hides itself, it’s always there.
But just to be sure, I decided to take inventory of all the ways I’m still a NC gal, starting with…
I’m a hugger. It was so strange when I moved up here and learned that people, even college kids, greet each other with a formal kiss on the cheek (just one, not two). In the South, we greet everyone with a hug, even if it’s just a quick in-and-out or a glorified back pat. I’ve tried to learn the kiss thing but it just doesn’t come naturally. So I continue on with my hugs, even though I suspect it makes everyone slightly uncomfortable or confused.
I love anything mayonnaise based. It’s such a cliché but I can’t get enough potato salad, coleslaw, deviled eggs, chicken salad… and the more mayo used, the better. When my mother comes to visit I force her at knifepoint to whip up a huge batch of her famous coleslaw that I then freeze and ration out the rest of the year. (Hey, there’s another Southern trait; we exaggerate.)
I let my kids play in creeks. My husband was aghast last summer when I let my kids swing on a rope and jump into a random creek in Delaware County. But, I’m sorry, when you’re a Southerner, and you see a creek, you wade in. That’s just what you do.
I say “I promise,” “I swear,” and “I’m sorry.” These are terms we Southern gals say all the time but we don’t mean them literally. They are just emphasizers… like warm-ups for what’s coming next. For example: “I’m sorry but these deviled eggs are fantastic.” Or, “I promise you that creek water is fine.”
I like it hot. I grew up in a house in Greensboro with no air conditioning and people up here think that’s insane. But what I think is insane is all how Northerners complain about the heat, even when it’s barely 85 degrees. I can only imagine what they would say about Kiawah Island in August.
And in fact, the rare times the temperature does tick over 90, it reminds me so much of home. I’m never happier than sitting in a lawn chair on the grass in August, watching my kids running around outside until their faces get bright red, and they get all sweaty and sticky and gross.
In fact, I think that’s the best time to go in for a hug. I swear.
Leigh Himes’ debut novel, “The One That Got Away,” is the story of a struggling working mother who gets the chance to live the life she always wanted with a man she nearly dated years before. It was called “brilliantly realized” by Booklist and a “clever, thought-provoking love story” by Elin Hilderbrand, and is available in hardcover, Kindle and on Audible. The One That Got Away takes place entirely in and around Philadelphia, but we hear she is working on her second novel—set in Charlotte.