In Gullah, they use the terms binyah and cumyah to describe those who have always “been here” and those that have “come here.” As I was looking across a group of friends at a happy hour recently, I started to think about how most of us are from places other than Charleston, but how we all have a love for the Lowcountry and all that it has to offer. I decided to interview two friends, one who was born and raised in the Lowcountry, and one who, like myself, relocated here. What I found was that it doesn’t matter if you grew-up here, or found yourself here, the love for the Lowcountry is strong and means something different to everyone.
Check out how Ginny Carson, our native, responded compared to Sarah Coe, who answered the same set of questions from the perspective of a newcomer:
Where were you born?
Ginny Carson's (GC) response: Roper Hospital – the real one, on Calhoun Street.
Sarah Coe's (SC) response: Buffalo, NY
How long have you lived in Charleston?
GC: All but 7.5 of my 39 years.
SC: Almost five years exactly.
Where else have you lived?
GC: Clemson SC (GO TIGERS!); Atlanta, GA and a short stint in Conway, Arkansas
SC: Buffalo, London, Chicago, San Antonio and Houston TX
How does Charleston compare to other places you have lived?
GC: Nothing finer.
SC: I’ll put it this way – it’s the longest I’ve stayed in one place since Buffalo, where I was raised. I love it here. It really is a bit of paradise.
What do you like to do in your spare time?
GC: I love to play outside: paddle board; fish in the creeks; run the local trails, bridges and South of Broad.
SC: Walk the oak tree-lined streets of my neighborhood, check out one of the countless, world-class restaurants, take in some of the amazing cultural scene – theater, live music, dance, comedy and art – the beaches, of course!
What is your favorite thing about living in Charleston?
GC: I love the history here – the (mostly) classy presence the city has had since our country’s beginning and my own personal history – I never know when a casual social gathering will resurface a childhood friend!
SC: There is an ease to southern living I would never have expected to enjoy. Perhaps it’s right for this time of my life. There are many options of things to do and see and I feel I can take my time to take it all in. No rush.
Do you have any Lowcountry rituals?
GC: I run the Cooper River Bridge almost every Wednesday with this crazy running group and whenever I have a little staycation time our family commits to watching the sunrise one day – Morris Island and Sunrise Park on James Island are our favorites to date!
SC: Great question, I love that “Lowcountry rituals”. This is so boring, probably, but I love my daily, round-trip work commute. I derive so much from bodies of water and I cross two rivers on my way in to work and on my way home. I always turn my head (bad driving practice, I know). The riverbanks here are exquisite.
What is your favorite Charleston season?
GC: Fall – because it feels like a cooler version of summer and I already have a tan.
SC: Fall – but it’s my favorite everywhere.
What is your favorite local festival and why?
GC: I like the Charleston Wine + Food Festival for what it has done to put Charleston on the map as a culinary destination. SEWE is a close second – I have excellent memories of my father taking us out of school so we could go see the wildlife exhibits when I was a kid (back then, we called it “The Expo”)!
SC: Restaurant Week – ALL the good foods for a fraction of the cost and its semi-annual. What’s not to like??
If you could tell others looking to move to Charleston one thing, what would it be?
GC: Commit to taking it all in; try things that may seem a little crazy (they’re the most fun!). And try not to tell us how good it is up north!
SC: I think expectation management is important. The cost of living here in *some* regards is less but be prepared for salaries to be significantly lower. Really build your network – that is how you hear about opportunities or get referrals. Be open to trying very southern things like Oyster Roasts, grits, and greens on New Year’s. When in Rome!