Thursday, June 2, 2016

Miracle Whip and a Shower Curtain

Or...dealing with the unexpected

I crossed the Mississippi River into Vicksburg, Mississippi close to dusk. But it was hard to tell, considering that the sky was menacing with rain clouds, lightning off to the west and the east. It was sprinkling as I drove across the bridge and then it increased, so that by the time I was heading east (I think it was east, but without mountains to guide me and rain, it was difficult to know) I was driving in a downpour at times barely able to see the stripes on the road. So, here I was, finally in Mississippi, about to call her home. The rain was appropriate, that is, considering that part of my reason for leaving New Mexico and the desert was to get to greener, wetter country. On May 24th at 4 p.m., I left Mesilla, NM for my trip to Columbus, Mississippi, where I had bought a house, in the very historic south Columbus district (pictures to follow later). It was an almost 1300 mile trip (one way) to reach my destination. When I stopped at 4 a.m. in Killeen, Texas, where I rented a hotel room and where I stayed only four hours before getting back on the road, my navigator in the Samsung Galaxy crapped out, and I could not get directions. I was in a relatively unknown part of Texas, somewhere in the Hill Country and I had to navigate back highways to inch my way up to I-20. I had gone this way to avoid driving through Dallas/Fort Worth. That was a mistake! I hadn't realized that I would be going through Ft. Worth/Dallas in the wee morning hours and would have encountered very little traffic. All this to say that my second leg of the trip was fraught with errors on my part, and what should have been a relatively easy trip took me sixteen hours. I finally arrived in Columbus at midnight, going into Thursday, May 26th.

My house is still empty of furniture, as I write this, and I haven't yet heard from the movers. Since this is a Memorial Day weekend, I don't expect they'll be here until May 31—or even later. I have no cooking utensils, no dishes, since everything is on the moving truck. I'm running out of clothes, as well, so I have had to be stinky (the utility room is blocked by stuff the workers have left here, also probably not to be moved until the 31st.) And, trying to avoid spending all my cash, I decided to buy sandwich fixings. So I went to one of the local groceries and bought meat and cheese and bread and got home prepared to fix a sandwich. I realized two things. I had forgotten Miracle Whip, and further I realized I couldn't take a shower because there was no shower curtain in the only bathroom with a shower head. The bathroom stopper in the other bathtub didn't work, and the bathroom with the shower didn't have a curtain. So...I headed back to the grocery store for Miracle Whip and a shower curtain, an odd combination, I know, but the clerk didn't think anything of it, probably didn't even look at the products long enough to register what they were.

But even more frustrating than the lack of a laundry room is that, without furniture, I have no place to sit, except on the toilet seat in either of the bathrooms.

Other than the initial missteps I took getting here, I am not disappointed in Columbus. The lush beauty of the countryside is a given. But it's often the case that a new town might appeal from the outside looking in, and then realization sets in that it was simply not what it seemed. Last night I attended a meeting of the MFA faculty and students in their first ever reading of their work at MUW (Mississippi University for Women, but no longer just for women). The MFA writing program is relatively new, and I was treated to readings from at least one student and one faculty member that were top-notch. Each had a sense of humor in the selections they read, each was full of being "southern" and that, too, was not a disappointment, not a surprise—the "southern" part that is.

I also found a down-home breakfast and lunch diner, not one of the big box chains out on Highway 45. Instead this one is in far east Columbus, almost out of town, and as the waitress told me, "I guarantee you will become a regular, here," I cannot deny it. I get to see the locals, but I haven't yet struck up a conversation with them, or they, me.

The northeastern Mississippi "accent" is gentle on the ears, unlike, say, the east Texas or Oklahoma accents, which are grating and a lot heavier. Sure, subtitles would sometimes be nice, floating above the heads of the speaker, but it is not often that I need them. I simply, politely ask, "what?" to get them to repeat themselves. I don't want to give the impression that the accent is thick, though, or really difficult or much different than where I'm from...really. Sometimes outside noise interferes, sometimes it's my own becoming-a-little-hard-of-hearing if a person's voice is too soft, and that, more than anything describes the accent. Soft, warm, southern.

Tonight, I attend a fiddling concert.

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