Southern Roots

“Write about what disturbs you, particularly if it bothers no one else.” – Kathryn Stockett, The Help

Somehow, we survived quite a three-(or maybe four?)-day weekend here in BCN.  As I am no longer accustomed to going to sleep at any sort of reasonable hour, I just finished watching The Help on my laptop.  Despite my mom’s misgivings about my sometimes-stoic nature, I may or may not wake up with swollen eyelids tomorrow morning; that movie always gets me!

At any rate, watching that movie again made me realize that I have yet to blog anything about mine and my moms’ trip down to Mississippi in June.  Practically right before I left for Spain, my mom and I flew down to Baton Rouge, Louisiana and then drove over to Summit, Mississippi to visit my great aunt and uncle there.  Instead of recounting the events and happenings from the trip in a play-by-play format, I’m electing to pull out random snippets that I wrote in my journal over the course of that week…

(Arrival in Baton Rouge) May 29- Sometimes I feel like my head is just going to explode due to being over-capacity in terms of thoughts, questions, opinions, aspirations, and observations. / While I have no idea what the year ahead of me is going to entail, I have faith that it will be good. I am ready and eager to see more of this beautifully mixed-up world, meet souls of quality, and learn new things along the way. Sometimes you just have to jump!

(Arrival in Summit, MS) May 30- Today is Aunt Charlotte’s birthday and yesterday was her & Uncle Bills’ 59th wedding anniversary. For lunch we had goulash with hot sausage, rice, rolls, salad, sweet potatoes, and coconut pound cake for dessert. / It never ceases to amaze me how sleepy and antique the deep south seems to feel. Like the small towns and their residents just stay still, oblivious and unaffected by the changes that time brings.  Leary of cell phones, generators, and foreigners, my great aunt and uncle remind me that there are still so many paradigms through which people see life.

May 31 – Notable southern names: Dink, Dot, Dobby, Edna, Giles, Nelson, and Ramsey. / As I walked out along the gravel path to get the mail for Aunt Charlotte, I caught myself thinking about life in the south and how contradictory my reactions to it are.  On the one hand, I can’t stand the slow, molasses-like pace of the deep south. I am annoyed at the general lack of reception in the woods and the eighty percent or higher humidity. It seems nearly impossible to eat healthy down here, and the southern MS accent makes everyone sound like they never made it past middle school. Yet on the other hand, I feel so completely at home here; in fact, I’m writing this entry on land that has been in my family’s possession for over five generations. The food, the accents, drawls, weather, and people –everything – it all feels like home. Swattin’ at mosquitos, walkin’ on gravel, eatin’ biscuits and grits for breakfast, and going to church on Sundays.

June 1 – Foods made in Aunt C’s kitchen: tomato gravy, biscuits, grits, coconut cake, pecan pie, fried okra, summer squash, fried green tomatoes, chicken & dumplings, Italian olive salad on mufalettas, purple hull peas, sweet potatoes, greens, fried chicken, gumbo, fried shrimp, BLTs, and banana bread pudding. Good lord! / I went down to the railroad tracks briefly last night by myself, just as the sun was fixin’ to set.  It was almost surreal to stand on the bridge right above the very tracks that mom, Sam, and Susan all used to play on for countless summers.

June 2 – “Again and again I felt the intensity of being alive, as if my destiny was pooling in around my feet. The experiences I was having seemed to be refashioning me. They were returning me to myself.” – Ann Kidd Taylor in Traveling with Pomegranates // Later tonight, Aunt C found him (Uncle Bill) in his bathroom half-way through finishing washing his socks there in the sink. After that Aunt C had “put Daddy to bed,” Mom went in their bedroom and just laid down on the bed facing him. He was still awake. She hugged on him and he weakly put his hand on her shoulder. She said: ‘Love you so much Uncle Bill,’ and he quietly mumbled back: ‘Love you too, baby.’

June 3 – Bug count at the Lazy R as of tonight we have spotted: spiders, roaches, fruit flies, red bugs, June bugs, ticks. With The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo heating up and all these bugs, I am scared to even move, let alone fall asleep!

June 6 – After a teary goodbye at the Lazy R, we had made our way back to Louisiana and got ready to go out with Jean. We first headed downtown to the Shaw Center for the Arts, taking the elevator to the top floor, which housed the restaurant and bar called Tsunami.

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