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 Caroline Bologna. As a writer and editor extraordinaire (in Zelda’s (entirely biased) opinion, having spent many a late night editing a college magazine together), Caroline always knew New York was the logical choice for her. But she’ll forever be a New Orleans gal at heart — the kind that “drinks at funerals” and is bursting with pride for her hometown.
New Orleans, Louisiana
Brooklyn, New York
Who are you and what do you do?
I’m an associate editor at The Huffington Post. I always knew I wanted to write for a living, and I feel so lucky to have landed such an incredible job right out of college. I publish about 3-5 short pieces every day. Beyond work, I love to explore the New York food scene and try as many desserts as possible.
Time North of the Mason-Dixon line so far?
What brought you to New York?
I tend to joke that I just follow my older siblings wherever they go. My sister has lived in New York for 10 years, and my brother’s been here for 4 years. New York is also the go-to city for editorial work, so it was kind of a no-brainer that I would end up here.
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?
A lot of people say, “But you don’t have an accent!” I have to explain that a lot of people from NOLA just don’t have accents — though there is the yat accent, and most of my friends who went to big Southern state schools for college came back with a little twang. I also have to explain the debutante culture behind Mardi Gras, which most people from outside New Orleans don’t seem to know anything about.
Describe life in NYC as people at home picture it. Describe life in NYC as it actually is.
I think they picture me living some sort of fabulous, Manolo-filled, Carrie Bradshaw life. In reality, life in New York means spending a ton of time walking around outside (so high heels just won’t cut it for me).
Where do you consider home? Why?
New Orleans will always be home. There’s a lot of pride in being a New Orleanian, particularly for people who lived through Katrina. NOLA is a city that is truly unlike any other — the music, the food, the art, the people, everything is unique. And I couldn’t be more proud to have grown up there.
Do you miss where you’re from? Do you see yourself going back?
I definitely miss it sometimes, though I don’t see myself moving back any time in the near future. Still, I wouldn’t rule it out as a “never” for later on.
There’s this famous quote by a local journalist named Chris Rose that a lot of people like to reference: “She is a New Orleans girl, and New Orleans girls never live anywhere else, and even if they do, they always come back. That’s just the way it is.”
Do you consider yourself a Southerner? Do you consider yourself a New Yorker? Why or why not?
I consider myself more a Southerner than a New Yorker. Where I’m from will always be part of my identity. And I’ll never stop saying “y’all.”
Which food/drink/song/book/movie/artwork/quotation/gif/etc. defines New York for you?
Which food/drink/song/book/movie/artwork/quotation/gif/etc. defines where you’re from?
Book: A Confederacy of Dunces
Quotes: “There are a lot of places I like, but I like New Orleans better.” — Bob Dylan
“We dance even if there’s no radio. We drink at funerals. We talk too much and laugh too loud and live too large and, frankly, we’re suspicious of others who don’t.” — Chris Rose
What is the best cure for homesickness?
Calling my mom while making the long walk to the L train.
Bagels or biscuits?