When I moved to Rochester in 1998, they tell me I talked like that, too.
One friend likes to joke that when he got on the elevator with me, it took me three floors to say, “Hi, my name is Marketta.”
But there were other aspects of having an accent that weren’t so funny.
I could be in the middle of a business meeting and have someone tell me, “Oh, that’s so cute the way you say that. Say it again.” Even worse was the time someone I supervised told me she just assumed that people who spoke slowly also thought slowly.
It became so frustrating that after a couple of years I started trying to hide it. I removed phrases like “fixin’ to” and “going into town.” I stopped saying ornery and cement and other words I knew I pronounced differently.
It was exhausting. And, if I’m honest, it still is. It is so much work to sand off the edges that make you different, so much effort to be like everyone else.
But when I return home to the place where my story began, to the people who loved me first, I exhale. I turn off the filter, and I fall into a comfortable cadence. I am simply myself.
I suspect it’s that way for all us who wander and get distracted by what others think, those of us who grow up and leave the spiritual nest and forget just how much we – and our accents and quirks – are loved and cherished by God. We feel all alone and out of place but we have a place at the table, a place where we all belong.
Sometimes we need to go back there to be reminded, to be grounded in truth and confidence. Then, we can bring the accent of home back with us in our heads and in our hearts.