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. Want to be next? Fill out our questionnaire here!
This week we have Joanna Futral. This dancer may hail from the land of Scarlett O’Hara, but she has pirouetted between North and South her entire life. Bagels, biscuits and almond croissants, she finds something to love everywhere she goes.
Who are you and what do you do?
I spend a lot of time doing administrative tasks for two dance companies I work for: applying for shows, updating our website, sending out eblasts, marketing, and general upkeep. I also dance for one group right now, make my own dances, and tutor 3rd-11th graders in math.
Time North of the Mason-Dixon line so far?
What brought you to New York?
Dance, so I could challenge myself as an artist.
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?
They usually ask why I don’t have a Southern accent; then I tell them I lived in Maine for 7 years (1st through 10th grade). Or they ask about what grits are.
I usually have to explain what a debutante ball is, and what that culture is like. Also my brainwashed love for Chick-fil-A and Coca-Cola.
Describe life in NYC as people at home picture it. Describe life in NYC as it actually is.
It’s all of it, all the time, but mostly it’s just exhausting.
Where do you consider home? Why?
Yikes, well as I write this I’m actually in Atlanta for a week, and it’s taken until Day 4 for Atlanta to feel like home again. When I first got here, I felt super anxious and ready to go back to New York, but now I’ve started remembering more stories and how it used to feel good to live here, too.
Do you miss where you’re from? Do you see yourself going back?
I do, but I love New York right now. I feel challenged in ways I never would have guessed. I feel braver about challenging my own social norms that I’ve just accepted over the years. I don’t feel as scared to do something different, but I’m definitely more aware of my fears, too.
But my boyfriend’s parents and my parents both live in Georgia, so yes, we’ll definitely move back to be closer to them.
Do you consider yourself a Southerner? Do you consider yourself a New Yorker? Why or why not?
But Atlanta is becoming super gentrified, so they’ll probably get almond croissants soon.