While hashing out the idea of writing my column about Southern small town life, I settled on the name Neurotically Sentimental.
Now, just to argue semantics I am going to separate the meanings of the words sentimental and nostalgic. (Please, don’t refer to a dictionary — I am making this up.)
I am sentimental, but I don't want to wallow in nostalgia. People who wallow in nostalgia can't get anything done. People who wallow in nostalgia want the world to be as it always was. (And they generally harbor an overly-romanticized version of the past). People who wallow in nostalgia have contempt for people who are not as nostalgic as they are.
Overly nostalgic people are emotionally lazy. (Don't get me wrong, I'm not saying I'm not lazy.)
People who are overly nostalgic are crummy listeners.
Sentimental people are emphatic people. They may pine for how it once was, but they keep an eye on the present. A sentimental person can witness a crying child and care and feel empathy toward that child because they remember what it was like to be a child.
Nostalgic people want comfort.
Sentimental people want to comfort.
Okay, fine. I'm a little of both.
Now, regarding small town life...
Why I Live in Covington, Georgia
Harry Shearer, the great humorist, broadcaster and voice actor once did a piece called, Why I am an American. The camera zoomed in on him as marshal music played, and in a full close-up he said because, “I was born here.”
So, yeah, a lot of why I live here is just that, I grew up here. My mama grew up here. Her mama grew up here. And her mama grew up here. And her mama...
To be sure, as a young man I left to seek my fortune. I went to college in Milledgeville. Then I spent five years in Orlando, selling out to a mouse, performing and writing comedy.
But when that was over, I had a huge urge (calling?) to come home to Georgia. I lived and dug ditches in Dahlonega for a while. And then my mother, Sara Cook Irwin, died. (She was known as Tootsie, AKA, Toots, AKA Maggie Hohandle when she signed checks.) After her funeral I lost the toss with my sisters and got the house.
So here I am.
If you don't know me I should tell you that I am a professional itinerant storyteller. I go around the country telling fictional tales about living in The New South (sentimental) as opposed to the Old South (nostalgic). Being from here is sort of my job.
Next time this column will have an actual narrative.
Therefore, I am hoping this inaugural entry will be the most boring essay of all.
But keep expectations low.
It's good to be here ~ Andy
A native of Covington GA, Andy Offutt Irwin is a nationally renown storyteller, humorist, singer, songwriter, musician, whistler, and human noise maker. Andy’s take on small town life has resulted in 10 albums, 1000s of shows, and many awards, including the 2013 Oracle Circle of Excellence from the National Storytelling Network. Andy Irwin is a native of Covington and a natural storyteller. He can be reached at email@example.com.