Monday, August 4, 2008

Sweet Home Mississippi

Deciding to dedicate this blog to Southern culture was a no-brainer. Growing up in rural Mississippi, I counted down the days until I could leave the South. I just had to leave this bucolic place behind. I had dreams to rush off to the likes of New York City, make a name for myself, and live life to the fullest.

Being young and na├»ve, I bought into the stereotypes given to Southerners, particularly Mississippians. After all, aren’t all of us illiterate, racist, and unforgivably behind the times?
As fate would have it, I was accepted and offered a generous scholarship to Mississippi College, a mere thirty minutes from home. I was excited, but still a small part of me was insanely jealous of my friends who were off to new and exciting places. While in college, I met my husband and we later settled, yep, you guessed it, right here in Mississippi.

After the birth of our first child, my view of Mississippi began to change. I began to investigate what I wanted my daughter to gain from her childhood - and from her mother. I quickly realized everything I considered positive about my life went back to one common thread – my Southern upbringing. Instead of seeing the negative, my eyes began to open to all the unique characteristics of home that helped make me who I am. I hoped to instill in my daughter the same values my parents found to be so vital to my well-being.
There were so many memories that only Mississippi could offer that I couldn’t bear my daughter to miss out on. Summers spent with purple fingers from shelling peas, the smell of Neshoba County red dirt, jumping from a makeshift rope swing into my grandfather’s muddy pond, my uncle’s homemade ice cream, and Decembers filled with Christmas cantatas at every local church.
Recently I had the opportunity to watch as my daughter took her first swim in that very same muddy pond that I spent numerous summers splashing around in. She loves a bowlful of purple-hulled peas and her favorite treat is that unbeatable homemade ice cream. Her rapidly developing vocabulary is splattered with “y’alls” and “fixing tos”. She’s pretty much Southern to the core and I couldn’t be happier about it.
My brother, who now lives in Kansas, comes home to visit with a look of relief on his face at the first signs of a true Southern accent. My friends who ventured off to new and exciting places have, for the most part, returned home. There’s a reason people come back. There’s warmth here, and it’s not just the 100 degree heat. This is where I grew up, where I’m raising my children, and where I hope to retire someday. My younger self would surely be taken aback. She’d be surprised to learn that I am, in fact, living life to the fullest – right here in Mississippi.
I have heard that sometimes you have to leave Mississippi in order to truly appreciate it, but that doesn’t ring true for me. They say the grass is always greener on the other side, but my grass is pretty green here in Mississippi – so I think I’ll stay.


Josh said...

even though i don't like mississippi, it was an entertaining read...

Anonymous said...

As you know we live in Knoxville, Tn. now and really like it but, it is not our home. Mississippi will always be our home. We took our kids to the neshoba county fair this summer and they had a ball. It almost made me sad instead of happy because they don't get to do more Mississippi type things.

Debbie Holland said...

Gosh're not supposed to write things that make me cry. Great writing. I love you!

Amanda Wells said...

Ha! Tell Monica to read it! Maybe she'll stay!