Lately, I've been missing the South. Like never before since I moved to the city, I miss it. It's a movie playing in my head, pausing more than it moves forward, a series of images of things I equate with the South. One moment, I see my foot on the dash, wind blowing through my hair, music cranked up, watching a lightening storm as the sun goes down in the distance. A little later, I see blackness as I wake up in the middle of the night to a loud crack of thunder. God, I miss thunder and lightening and storms more than anything. It doesn't storm up here. It rains for short amounts of time, and even then it sounds so different because it's pitter-pattering on my AC in the window, not on my roof. And thunder in the distance just doesn't exist in New York. I crave that.
Then it's something vague, like a grassy hill. Or those hills in Mississippi, on the drive from Birmingham to Oxford, that rise and fall against the blunt flatness of the Delta to the south. I remember driving that route on the prettiest days the universe ever threw together, and thinking, even then - when I absolutely took it for granted - how the sky seemed to stretch on forever and the clouds were the happy residents of that infinity. The grass stalks on the sides of the highway were tall, and depending on the time of year, they were green or yellow or brown, sometimes all three. But they were always there, and they seemed to constantly sway in the wind, all the blades moving together in one swooping motion, as if they were waving at me along my journey.
It's odd, because I'm not sad in New York. Maybe I just haven't gotten to that point yet, but I oddly feel sort of comforted by my ardent longing for the South. Maybe because it comes from somewhere outside of myself - or at least that's my inclination, since I'm certainly not forcing myself to feel this way - I think each missin' pang brings me closer to where I need to be and what I need to do. As if the script to that movie in my head isn't completed, but is actively being written. The plot is revealed to me in flashes, and the ending doesn't even exist yet.
Remember when I told y'all I'm reading North Toward Home by Willie Morris? Well the same day I started reading it, I noticed a note on the last page, written by one of the previous owners. When I tried to read it, I couldn't decipher the handwriting, which might be referred to as "chicken scratch," and looks like it could have been written by my mom or her mama or her momma before. Then I sort of forgot about it. Yesterday, I looked at it again and it was perfectly clear to me.
Great day in the morning
betw Boca & Atlanta
You come back now you hear!
My birthday is 1/21/86. I was two years and two days old when this person finished the book and felt compelled to make a note of it. Also, no one above the Mason-Dixon line says "great day in the morning." Ever. AND, don't people normally say "y'all come back now ya hear"? This person, for some reason, replaced the "y'all" with "you." And 22 years later, I read it at a particularly vulnerable time, when I miss the South and home with every part of myself. Art - and therefore life - is a complete mindfuck sometimes.
When I read it on the train yesterday, I started laugh-crying. I'm sure I looked insane. But it's just like, OK, universe - after the message this book already gave me when I was sitting in the window of the salon in Chelsea, I can't ignore it.
I'm coming home. I don't know when. I don't even know where or why or how, but I just feel the truth of that statement, without even understanding it.
SEE: JOAN JONAS EXHIBIT AT GAVIN BROWN
9 minutes ago