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 the lovely Katie Warden! Katie is one of Zelda & Scout’s New York besties, a fellow lover of musicals, Southern food, spoken word-infused rap, and Matthew Gray Gubler. Now there are some who would not consider her Florida home the South, but this tailgatin’, Buffett-listenin’, margarita-drinkin’ chick would beg to differ.
Who are you and what do you do?
I’m currently working at Christie’s Education in New York. The graduate program combines art history and art business to train the next group of art professionals. Basically I plan graduate students’ day to day lives.
Time North of the Mason-Dixon line so far?
2 years, 5 months, and 10 days, but who’s counting really.
What brought you to New York?
Sotheby’s Institute of Art for graduate school, where I met Scout!
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?
No one ever really knows where I am from, so I generally tell everyone I am from the Orlando area, which people usually think means I live at Disney. Also, being from Florida, many people do not consider it part of the “true South,” so I find myself having to defend my Southern roots more so than others.
Describe life in NYC as people at home picture it. Describe life in NYC as it actually is.
I think people always think that living in New York is like living in a dream world. Don’t get me wrong, New York is amazing, but this is not Gossip Girl. While there are a ton of things I get to do in NYC that I would never be able to do if I were back in Florida (like see world class art, go to Broadway shows, walk on the Highline in the summertime), the majority of my time is spent on things that are much more mundane, like going to work for the majority of each day. New York life is about seizing all those opportunities that are afforded to you by the city and really making the most of what it has to offer.
Where do you consider home? Why?
This question is hard, because I feel like a girl of two worlds now. I go back to Florida and it fits, but my life in New York fits, too. I think I will always be a Florida girl at heart. My blood constantly craves the sunshine and sea air and good seafood. Yet there is something about New York that draws me back each time. I think that my definition of home is where there is love, and I have so much love at home from my family and old friends, but there is love here in New York and things I cherish about this city that I never want to give up.
Do you miss where you’re from? Do you see yourself going back?
I miss DeLand for the people more than anything else. I miss my parents and other family. I miss my best friends that I’ve had for 10+ years. I miss wandering around our downtown, drinking Boston Coffee drinks and living the small town life. I can see myself being back below the Mason Dickson eventually for sure, but I’m not sure when that will be. If anything, I will just retire to a beach house in Daytona and soak up the sun in my old age.
Do you consider yourself a Southerner? Do you consider yourself a New Yorker? Why or why not?
There are times when I consider myself both. The longer I live in New York, the more it seems to fit, and the more I feel like a New Yorker. But the South will always have my heart, and deep down I will always be a Southern girl.
Which food/drink/song/book/movie/artwork/quotation/gif/etc. defines New York for you?
Food/ Drink: Brunch of all shapes and sizes, particularly with endless mimosas.
Book: I have a lot of really strong feelings associated with Catcher and the Rye. I read it about once a year, and now that I live in New York, I like looking at the places that Holden describes and seeing how much, and how little, has changed about the city.
Quote: “One belongs to New York instantly, one belongs to it as much in five minutes as in five years.” –Tom Wolfe
Which food/drink/song/book/movie/artwork/quotation/gif/etc. defines where you’re from?
Food/ Drink: Seafood and margaritas, specifically those found at my parents’ restaurant, Our Deck Down Under, in Daytona Beach. There is also a clear connection for me between the South and all things barbeque and whiskey.
Song: As cheesy as it sounds, I always associate the tunes of Jimmy Buffett with my home. There is just something about driving down the beach and listening to Buffett songs that screams home. Also the sounds of Southern rock that I grew up listening to with my dad — things like the Allman Brothers, Lynyrd Skynyrd, Charlie Daniels, etc. Those are the traditional sounds of the South that always make me think of home and my family.
Quote: “We are tied to the ocean. And when we go back to the sea, whether it is to sail or to watch — we are going back from whence we came.” — John F. Kennedy
What is the best cure for homesickness?
Whenever I’m feeling homesick, I cook. I’ll make the cookies my mom has been making for us since infancy or another one of her other home-cooked classics. This food, along with a good movie or book, helps me center myself and makes me feel better about being so far from home. And I’m pretty much in the constant contact with my family and friends back home, which makes the distance seem much shorter.