Mondays on Zelda & Scout are all about you! In a series we call “Just Folks,” we talk to Southerners who have found their way to New York about where they’re from, where they are now, and what home means to them.
This week we have Candace Bryan, a fashion writer and proud cat mom who hails from Memphis, but was born to be a New Yorker.
Who are you and what do you do?
I’m a freelance fashion writer and proud cat mom. I’ve written for sites ranging from Refinery29 to the New York Observer, and I’m currently the Weekend Editor at Styleite.com. In my free time, I drink old-fashioned’s, run, and make my own clothes!
Time North of the Mason-Dixon line so far?
2 years (AH!)
What brought you to New York?
I went to college in Annapolis, Md., where I met my boyfriend. After we graduated, we spent three months in Europe and moved straight here. He grew up right outside the city, and I’d always wanted to live here, so it was the obvious choice!
What’s the most common reaction when people learn where you’re from? What’s something about life in the South that you have to explain to non-Southerners?
People are always very surprised (unless I’m tipsy, when my “y’all”s come out). They’re more interested, though, by the fact that I’m from Memphis specifically. Pretty much everyone thinks it’s a cool city.
I always have to explain to my Yankee friends why I have manners — like calling older women “ma’am” and not eating like a slob. Apparently that’s not something they do up here. Also, I have to explain the unique situation of having been a Southern Jew.
Describe life in NYC as people at home picture it. Describe life in NYC as it actually is.
My very Southern relatives think NYC is dangerous. But I’ve never felt any safer than I do in Manhattan, especially on the Upper East Side.
Where do you consider home? Why?
I’m not sure I’ve found home yet. I have no plans to return to the South, but I’m not sure NYC is it either.
Do you miss where you’re from? Do you see yourself going back?
Nope. I’m pretty ambitious, and Memphis simply doesn’t have the kinds of opportunities I want for my career. Obviously, I miss my family and the yard I played in growing up. But Memphis itself has nothing for me.
Do you consider yourself a Southerner? Do you consider yourself a New Yorker? Why or why not?
My boyfriend used to joke back in college that I was “born to be a New Yorker,” and I’ve screamed at enough taxis at this point to feel like he was right. But I still get snobby about people from North Carolina not being “real Southerners,” and I always try to have big hair. So I’d say I’m both.
Which food/drink/song/book/movie/artwork/quotation/gif/etc. defines New York for you? (choose as many or as few as you’d like)
Song: “Money” from “Cabaret”
Book: “Franny and Zooey”
Quotation: “Practically everybody in New York has half a mind to write a book — and does.” – Groucho Marx
Which food/drink/song/book/movie/artwork/quotation/gif/etc. defines where you’re from? (choose as many or as few as you’d like)
Drink: Diet Coke
Song: Anything by Al Green
Book: “Huck Finn”
Movie: “Cat on a Hot Tin Roof”
What is the best cure for homesickness?
Listening to Elvis, eating collard greens, and remembering that Memphis doesn’t have public transportation.