Name: Anthony Williams
Born in: Tyler, Texas
Occupation: Writer, assistant, cashier, background extra, etc.
I currently live in: Los Angeles, California, in the Pico-Union neighborhood.
When I go back to the South, I always: Fail to do everything I want to do. But Taco Cabana is usually my first fast-food stop, whether I’ve driven back and see the first one in El Paso, or fly in and dive into some nachos right after leaving the airport.
Something I miss: I’ve been car-free for a year now, but more than sometimes missing having that kind of transportation, I just miss driving 100 miles or more randomly just to see family or friends. I miss high school football games with huge crowds and intense atmospheres. I miss taking my little cousins off to the city to visit a new mall or new burger joint. I’ve got people spread all over Texas, and even dotted across the Dallas-Fort Worth Metroplex, and those little road trips were often a good little escape that I appreciate so much more now.
Similarities I find between the South and Los Angeles: The Los Angeles Lakers are almost as revered, worshiped and talked about as the Dallas Cowboys. Almost.
Something I do to keep my Southern identity: I still say, “y’all,” and started saying, “Bless your heart,” here while (working) in retail – to keep my sanity. And, there’s numerous little things I only catch here and there that I do because I’m Southern or just because I grew up used to it – saving and reusing bacon grease, and cooking huge pots of food even if it’ll only be for myself. Weirdly enough, I say “ma’am” and “sir” more here than I did growing up.
Being Southern has helped me: Stand out. Even though I lean more towards being an introvert, I can be a little extra when meeting and hosting people. I help lead a Bible study group with another Southern guy from Georgia. When it’s at my house, I always end up cooking or offering something, despite protests that it’s unnecessary.
Morsel of wisdom to other transplant Southerners: I’m starting to write creatively, and something that hit me while learning the formulas for scripts (yep, there are formulas) was the quote, “It’s the same, but different.” That’s true in writing and in life, and whenever I’ve traveled to or lived somewhere new.
There are basic structure to cities, communities and routines everywhere. While it may be fun and easier to sit and figure out what’s your “new this” or “new that” (“Pasadena’s my new Fort Worth,” “Ralphs is just Kroger,” “the 405 is my new I-635”), it’s better to accept things for what they are so you can sincerely savor it all.
Oh, and whenever you go back home, relax. Thankfully, I have family that can remind me of that when I’m trying to run around to see everyone and do everything. But you should be able to just chill all day at an aunt’s house as if you’re eight years old again.
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