Bad Habit, Big City

I was born and raised in the south. This New Yorker of 21 years still gets asked where she’s from every single day. My southern accent is like a fog horn in a crowd of New Yorkers. New acquaintances inquire when I moved here as if it will surely wear off at some point. 

I love ❤️ watching New York intellectuals squirm when they try to figure out how to tell me nicely about their embarrassment by my southerness or even funnier misunderstandings. My best friend Tim recently confessed that when I host parties and ask him if he received my Evite, he just thought that was my southern mispronunciation for INVITE.

Once, I went to see Talladega Nights with a big group of girls. I noticed that most of them did not laugh during the movie. Only my friend Sarah from N.C. and I seemed to really enjoy it. I don’t know if you have seen this masterpiece of a film, but it is really not believable that someone could stay straight faced throughout it. After the movie, several of the girls confessed that they felt uncomfortable laughing at the movie in front of us since it was making fun of our culture. I then asked them if they were offended by the Sopranos or The Nanny. Brilliant satire is brilliant satire. 

When I first arrived in the city, I had a terrible Diet Coke problem and it was very much shunned by polite New York society. I was the Queen of the Big Gulp. Ok. So, I totally get that this is a red habit. I had to have a fountain drink and it had to be a good one. At the time, there were no places in New York to get a good fountain drink…except the movie theater. I knew every kid that worked at the AMC Theater on the corner of 84th Street and Broadway. “Hey Ms Loving!” they would say as they let me in. They loved me so much that if I saved my cup, they would give me a refill for free.

My uncouth beverage habit followed me to the Hudson River Valley where I was a guest many times of a very sophisticated couple with a beautiful farmhouse. Each morning, I got up and walked two miles to the nearest 7/11 to get a fountain drink. It was a nice walk lined with views of the Berkshire Mountains, horses and a farmer or two.  

When I would return, my friend Carsten would make fun of my Big Gulp cup and forbid me to bring it to the fundraiser we were attending that night. My cup wasn’t allowed in his car either (his $150k Mercedes). What he didn’t understand was that his car was exactly the sweet spot I was looking for. The ultimate high and low: Me sitting shotgun in some fancy as sh⭐️t Mercedes drinking a Big Gulp. Winning! Even though I could definitely embarrass Carsten, he loved me anyway and is one of my favorite collectors. He kept my Big Gulp cup for me in his cabinet and would set it at my place at the dinner table for years after I had kicked the habit.

I love when people ask me about my accent because it’s an instant conversation starter.  The best thing that could happen to you as an artist in New York is that you stick out and let me tell you, having a southern accent in New York makes you stick out.  There are so many flavors of southerners just like anything else.  I am a hybrid of all my life experiences and that makes me a Manhattan Magnolia. I take the best of both cultures and leave the rest behind!


New York artist most known for her Lady Liberty art prints and original paintings. Discover Laura's complete I Love New York series in the shop.