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 Kendra Ralston! This Kentucky gal wouldn’t exactly call herself a Southerner. But when she does find herself missing the grits and cornbread of home, she dances it out.
Brooklyn, New York
Who are you and what do you do?
I’m a content editor at The New York Public Library. I get to read, write, and edit for a living, and I work inside one of the most beautiful buildings in the city. I’d have to say I’m living the dream so far.
I’m also a semi-professional dancer with Baila Society, and I occasionally do aerial hoop. Joining the circus is a new life goal.
Time North of the Mason-Dixon line so far?
8 years (including 4 in Massachusetts for college)
What brought you to New York?
I wanted to pursue book publishing after I graduated college, so I moved here without much of a plan besides finding a job in that industry. I wound up at Google, then I fell into marketing. Through a series of crazy events, I finally wound up doing what I love.
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?
Typically, “You don’t have an accent!” or “I’ve never met anyone from Kentucky before.”
People seem to think of Kentucky as all hills, farms, horses, and KFC. They’re usually surprised when I explain that it has a lot more to it than that.
Describe life in NYC as people at home picture it. Describe life in NYC as it actually is.
Imaginary: Gossip Girl, all day every day.
Real life: dirty, smelly, fast-paced, aggressive, ride or die.
Where do you consider home? Why?
That’s a tough question, but I’d have to say New York for right now. I’ve managed to surround myself with an incredible group of people who’ve been there for me at my best and worst, and they’ve become home to me.
Do you miss where you’re from? Do you see yourself going back?
Sometimes, but I don’t see myself going back.
Do you consider yourself a Southerner? Do you consider yourself a New Yorker? Why or why not?
Is Louisville that Southern? I don’t think I’d consider myself a Southerner.
I can’t say I’m a New Yorker either, but I’ve definitely developed a thicker skin by being here. I’ve struggled a lot since moving to New York, but I’ve come out stronger because of it.
Which food/drink/song/book/movie/artwork/quotation/gif/etc. defines New York for you?
Food: dollar pizza, black and white cookies
Art: Edward Hopper, “Nighthawks.” It reminds me of the loneliness that can come from being in a saturated city like New York, while still not feeling completely alone.
Which food/drink/song/book/movie/artwork/quotation/gif/etc. defines where you’re from?
Music: Claude Debussy, “Clair de Lune”
Food: grits, pancakes, and cornbread
What is the best cure for homesickness?
Usually (always?) dancing.
Bagels or biscuits?