Fort Mill residents, let's pat ourselves on the back. Either through being born into the location or choosing to come here by choice, we inhabit one of the most livable suburbs in the United States.
What criteria determines livability? The factors most commonly mentioned are affordability, lack of crime, proficient schools and median income. On all of these items, Fort Mill receives high marks. You can buy a house double the size of one in Charlotte's Dilworth neighborhood with much safer and quieter surroundings. The schools are among the best in the state.
And violent crime, while it does happen, is not an everyday occurrence.
I should be more proud of my location. When asked where I live, it is usually easier to simply say, "Near Charlotte," but wouldn't it be better to puff my chest out and say, "Fort Mill, one of the best suburbs in the U.S.!"? Of course, this would lead to many more questions on where it is exactly, starting with, "Which state?" and then, "Suburb of which city?" and to some the simply quizzical, "Huh, do what?"
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I don't mean to shortchange South Carolina. But let's face it, when I'm talking to people from outside of the area, they know where Charlotte is and Fort Mill might as well be a fictitious military base. But I cave on matters like this far too easily. My hometown rests a stone's throw away from the Pennsylvania border in New York. Yet, because I was some 200 miles east of New York City, I had to say I was from "Upstate New York," a vast area hundreds of times the size of the city everyone knows so well it is called the Big Apple.
If I said "Elmira," I would have to do this near a reflective surface so I could check to see if a third eye had grown on my face or some other horrifying development was causing the strange, dumbfounded reaction of the person in front of me. When I first came to the area, I had to run for cover a few times when saying "Elmira" because it was the site of a prisoner of war camp during the Civil War. I got the impression I wouldn't have enough time to explain that there had not been a camp there for more than a century and that the site no longer existed before getting a round of buckshot sent into my backside.
It became easier to say, "New Yawk City" with a thick Brooklyn accent and followed with a grab of the crotch and a spit on the ground. Of course Brooklynites could see through this bad imitation and would throw me a beating or two. That's right, they don't deliver beatings or give them. They "trow dem."
Maybe it is time to take a stand. Time to state where I live proudly. Fort Mill is a great town. From now on, when I'm asked where I'm from I will say "Fort Mill" and when people ask me about it, I will tell them to look it up. Tell them to learn about it.
No doubt the vast majority will look aghast at my third eye and the Brooklynites will still throw me a beating, but through the strange looks and the pool of blood, I'll have my pride.