As we packed the car in the blazing heat we marched up and down our three-story fire escape, the center of operations of course being our tiny, non-air-conditioned apartment.
By 2pm we were on the road. All of the items that we didn't sell were transported downstairs to, The Old Town Consignment Shoppe, which now exists on the first floor of our building and is open for business. It is located at the intersection of Hwy 309 & Church St. in lovely Byhalia.
We are now lightyears away from the mid-south (for all you yankees that's a precise geographic term for the area wherein that particular Mid-Western feeling inhabits the other side of the Mason-Dixon line). It was astonishing to witness how much things changed just traveling across the border from Mississippi into Tennessee, which I did every day I went to work, as well as many days that I didn't. Basically, to access any business beyond a Piggly Wiggly and a Gas Station, I needed to do this. I knew I was in Tennessee when the roads smoothed out and the areas bordering the road were landscaped, maintained, and even gardened. This did not happen in MS outside of the, "Lawn of the Month" participants and, of course, the Ole Miss Campus.
I still thought Mississippi was much prettier than Tennessee, often, because of its wild nature. In Tennessee I saw mowed grass and SUV's, not a lot of intrigue. In Mississippi I saw wildflowers, herons and rusted-out trucks half a century old and still running or, sometimes, decomposing on a lawn.
Mississippi had a lot of crumbling sidewalks, completely overgrown by bush in some patches, and in others so angled and warped by tree trunks riding a bike over them becomes a stunt.
I will miss the Magnolia trees, the acres of Honeysuckle, the grassy, fertile smell in the air and the storms. I also regret not getting to know some people better, especially the gray haired black man opening up the food shack next to our building in our last weeks there. He would work throughout the heat of the day, taking smoke breaks on a metal, folding chair outside the tiny building's back door. "Chicken, ribs, burgers...fish! Whatever people want I'll make."
What I see as paradoxical about this region of the country is how poor and delapidated this area is in contrast with the widely misunderstood, romanticized and out-dated notion that the Deep South is wealthy, friendly, well-manicured and dreamy. It is dreamy, and sometimes friendly, but when I decided to move there I had no idea how depressing it would be. I knew most of the state was poor but I didn't imagine how that would affect me as a resident. And it is still, incredibly beautiful, in an un-touched, dreamy, wild sort of way. As an outsider, I saw poverty as iconically beautiful, symbolizing life lived close to the earth in humility and without much need for luxury. But I witnessed a state of affairs that was upside down from how I had romanticized. I noticed people blowing money on temporary luxuries like electronics, living with mold, pollutants and allergens, sick, eating dramatically unhealthy diets, and violent or neglectful towards animals. This is not how everyone lived, obviously, but it did not fit into my vision for how life would be.
It is just so different from the standard of living in Los Angeles, Long Island, or even Atlanta. People drive a lot in the Mid-South. This also sharply contrasted with how I envisioned small-town life to be. I pictured myself walking to work, walking to the store, walking everywhere. No Ma'am. It seems like nobody ever thinks of walking if they have a car. It is like that would make someone look poor or something. In Collierville, TN, where I worked, you are lucky to find a sidewalk, and people look out from their cars confusedly, it is a completely exposed feeling just to walk one mile.
My fiance's brother visited and took one of our cars to the dealership for a repair. He took a cab to meet me during my lunch break so I could give him my car but accidently got dropped off a few miles too soon. No problem for him, being a backpacking outdoor expeditioner and all. As he walked along the main road he was accosted by two police officers and searched. While they searched him another officer pulled up and joined the search. Having just gotten back from several months of backpacking throughout India, Nepal, Indonesia and beyond, he was appalled that it took coming back to the States to encounter a problem with the authorities.
Anyway, I think people drive way too much in general. There is definitely too much driving for me here on Long Island. It's really just too much traffic, really. It took me two hours to go 30 miles the other day. Granted, it was Sunday afternoon, with the Hamptons people commuting back to the city and the Puerto Rican Day Parade happened to be rolling through Manhattan.
The tough part is that the driving didn't end once our road trip ended in our arrival in New York two weeks ago. There has been driving to the airport and driving to Rhinebeck and driving to the beach, driving into the city and Brooklyn and soon I will be driving to Boston. Till then I plan on spending as much time as possible out of car, which has been easy since I have been in extreme, pregnant-lady-that-just-arrived-home-after-years-of-living-everywhere-but-home, nesting mode.
I will include more about our road trip, visits with family, how pregnant life on Long Island is going and what is in store for the future in the next installment of, THINGS THAT NEED HOMES! I may need to change the title back since I am no longer featuring items, but I sort of like the current title, it can be taken kind of poetically...Any suggestions!?
and, as the say in Kundalini Yoga:
May the Long-Time Sun Shine Upon You
All Love Surround You
And, the Purest Light Within You
Guide Your Way On