I am what is called a “true” Floridian. We are a rare breed. I was born, raised, and spent the first 35 years of my life in Florida. This does not make me Southern. While there are some areas in Florida that can be considered culturally Southern, and certainly Florida is geographically as Southern as it gets when it comes to the United States, where I’m from, Fort Lauderdale, it’s about as far from the typical, cultural stereotype of Southern as you can get. First of all, there is no accent. In North Carolina, where I now reside, I am typically mistaken for a Yankee. At a political fundraiser years ago, a linguist could not guess where I was from after an hour of conversation. Secondly, when I was growing up it was rare to find another “true” Floridian—neighbors, friends, and classmates were all from somewhere else, mostly Northern states (which were considered any state from Georgia on up). This gave my life a very eclectic mood and edge as far as accents, traditions, beliefs, etc. Thirdly, and this might be the primary reason why I cannot be considered Southern by any stretch of the imagination, growing up in Fort Lauderdale and on the outskirts of Miami, I was raised on the fringes of a heavily-flavored Hispanic/Cuban influence. It may sound like I’m afraid someone might mistake me for being Southern. That’s not the case at all. What I’m trying to do is apologize for not being so. I was brought up by parents who were born and raised in Ohio. I’ve lived in the “South” my entire life, raised my child in the South around the influence of many actual Southern relatives, and I have lived in a bonafide Southern plantation (see picture below). I live in North Carolina and most of my friends are Southern. While I love many of the Southern ways and traditions, I am not now, nor have I ever considered myself to be, Southern.