I heard a song on the radio last night, “My Porch Faces the South. Willie Nelson wrote the lyrics. I thought about it. My porch also faces The South.
You can’t say enough about sweet tea, a couple of rocking chairs, the evening sun and a porch aimed southward.
I grew up down here. I have never, ever lived anywhere else but the South. And, frankly my dear, I don’t care to live anywhere else.
I love being down South.
Here, I watch strong men meet the breaking dawn, planting cotton, corn and beans. I follow log trucks down country roads and the interstate. I take in a combination of new dirt, fresh tree sap, sweat and diesel fuel. Then again, I have walked our halls of science and medicine. Yes, we have brilliant people down here.
I have watched Chancellors and Presidents confer Doctorates and Masters Degrees and smiled, knowing what kind of talent we have developed.
It would be hard for me to be alive if I lived elsewhere. Stifled may be the word I need to use. I remember when I turned down the opportunity to live in Texas. To me, it was not an opportunity to live.
Yes, I have seen the pain we southerners have brought upon ourselves. We’ve raised more than our fair share of idiots, people who just want to hate because hating is the easiest thing to do. I know about the tears it takes to cool the fires of hatred Still I am looking southward, each and every day. We can overcome the hatred. We work on it, one person at a time.
I am grateful. I have the pleasure of an education. The South’s been good to me. The South has let me grow old. The red clay holds my grandparents, my parents. kinfolk, and already, too many friends and neighbors.
It holds me, as certain as my Mom held me in her womb. Maybe, even now, it still protects me from another world or two. And I hold it, as certain as a father holds onto his child’s hand.
The South has taught me. I like that. I learned to appreciate what we have down here. I learned who I am because I am from the South.
I sat beside a petite French woman with a head full of red hair. We were on a plane, flying out of Holland, headed to the US. I was headed home, headed south. She was from Paris, she said.
Over the roar of jet engines, I told her I lived in the South. She just looked at me. When I said “Mississippi” her face changed. It dropped, like she wanted to look down at me. Even though she was silent, I felt like I had been cursed.
So, I invited her to come visit. I figured I could learn a bit of French and I knew I could damn well teach her a lot.
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