When I moved to Louisville, Kentucky five years ago, I had no idea what I was in store for. I heard new words, saw new things, and had many experiences I never would have had before my time here in "horse country." I have lived in four states, but Kentucky has definitely been one of the most unique. Many hold common misconceptions about this state, just as I did before my time here. So, here are just a few things I think I can fully understand now, as a true Kentuckian.
1. Kentucky does, in fact, exist
"What?" you may be asking. Well, to that I say yes. When my parents told me we were moving to "Kentucky," it took me a while to figure out exactly what and where this foreign place was (and yes I aced my 5th-grade states test, this just shows how unknown Kentucky is to some).
2. Churchill Downs and Keeneland
Okay, okay, I know horse racing is pretty familiar to people across the country. But, no one can understand how big of a deal it is until they have lived among the delightful insanity of these two major racetracks. More specifically, the pompous celebrations around Derby create an environment for weeks that Louisville, specifically, thrives off of. No non-Kentuckian could ever describe the excitement leading up to the big race, or even the more modest yet lively weekends at Keeneland.
3. Saying "y'all"
Yeah, yeah, yeah. I do realize that this is a southern thing in general, but for about my first three years here, I refused to say the word, as if it would turn me into the Walmart yodeling kid himself (which isn't really a bad thing, by the way). But, as time passed I began using the term, and ever since then, I have never felt more like a true Kentuckian.
4. Yes! We DO wear shoes!
Excuse me, what? I'm just gonna leave this here. A true Kentuckian knows that we do, in fact, wear shoes. We are still in America people. Although, hey, sometimes ya just gotta kick off those shoes no matter what state you're in.
5. It is not all "yee haw" county and dirt roads, thank you
We have brick buildings, running water, and even a Jeff Ruby's Steakhouse! A true Kentuckian knows how to eat with silverware, cook on an actual stove, and use a real-life cell phone.
6. Driving on Kentucky backroads
Okay, okay, I said it's not ALL yee haw county and dirt roads. But, okay, some of it is, yes. A true Kentuckian hops in their car and can drive those Kentucky back roads for hours, admiring the beautiful pastures full of horses, flowers, and rustic barns. This sight is really something I never appreciated until I moved here and now I can understand why Kentuckians are so content. This experience of simply letting yourself relax and admire such a peaceful sight is one not often found in other places.
Kentucky is my home, and I wouldn't change these unique experiences for the world. After I moved here, I never thought I would say it, but, I am proud to be a true Kentuckian.