Wednesday, May 27, 2009
Sometimes It's Best Not to Go Home Again.
I had not been to my hometown in Mississippi in 15 or so years. I left it when I was 20 and never looked back. I was out of there so quick when I got the opportunity that those local policeman with the beat up cruisers (from running into deer, cows and each other mainly) didn't have a chance of catching me.
I got me a ticket to Calif-or-nee and jumped ship.
But of course time passes and thoughts of home grow fonder with each day. After a few years you wonder why you thought it was so horrid and why you ran faster than a wild rabbit with Old Man Purvis' coon dog on your tail to get out of town.
You start to remember school and how in a nice small town you knew everyone. You remember the bonfires, the school dances at the armory, the weeks when the deathtrap fair filled with toothless carnies came to town. The parades thru town on holidays where if you had a horse or tractor to ride, or heck, even a tame cow, you could be in the show!
It was a town that felt like a big heaping plate of comfort food.
So I moved down South again about 10 years ago and when just back I got invited to a shindig in Mississippi. I jumped at the chance to go even though I wasn't very close to that particular side of the family.
On the way to the party, I told hubby that a turn off of only 30 miles or so would bring us to my old town.
Hubby, who found small Southern towns fascinating, and wanted to see where his redneck woman came from and what made her eat grits (which he is loath to touch) so readily, agreed immediately.
I was so excited... I envisioned running into old school chums and showing off my sophisticated, worldly, California ways. I was gonna show them that Idgie did good when they gave her looks of ridicule for saying she was moving off to Calif-or-nee all those years ago. I was gonna show my hubby what a quaint old Southern town I lived in, just like in "To Kill a Mockingbird", without murder and rape of course.
We pull in to town and the first thing I notice was that it wasn't quaint. It was run down. They managed to add a few ticky-tacky block-shaped buildings to the town, taking away any further old-timey charm. Those adorable older homes with the big oak and willow trees on main street..... Well a few now had those trees as roofs on abandoned homes.
My friends? Who knows. I didn't recognize a soul. And they all looked at me with deep suspicion as a stranger. Instead of me showing off my sophistication, I probably looked like a snotty city girl that they imagined was sneering at their country ways.
I give hubby directions to the old homestead. I was excited as I thought it was always a nice house, nothing but good memories. Well, two things had happened. One was that at one time an auto shop of some sort was added onto the actual house (My Mama's turning in the grave as we speak) and two.... it had burned down. My beautiful old home that I couldn't wait to run away from was gone forever.
Worse even was that my Daddy had a bad habit of "improving" things. He would improve them with the town drunks helping. I would find them (not Daddy... okay, sometimes Daddy too!) asleep in the back of my car (no doors were ever locked in this town) after burying my dog. I would find them at the kitchen table asking me to fetch them a pickle. Worst of all, I would find them adding a room to a room and saying that before the drink took them they had a fine electrical business.
Yes, you guessed it right.. the fire in that beautiful old house that I couldn't wait to get away from started at the fuse box from the looks of it. My daddy and the town drunk were adding a room and wiring when I moved away. I'm sure they had something to do with this.
So I go to the cafe and ask what happened to Doc's old place. They didn't recognize our names!!!!!!!! Don't old little towns remember whose cat chased a blue tick hound up a tree in 1943? They remembered the people before us that built the house and the people after us... they didn't remember my family name at all.
I was pure smote down with that one. I had grand plans to breeze into town and get oohed and aaahed over.
I took hubby to the high school where they take all our photos and put each year up on the wall. It was locked, I couldn't show him it. We looked at the football field. We walked into the Feed and Food Mart. We drove by the historical sign and waited for a train to pass the grain mill. 45 minutes later the entire tour was done, even though Hubby told me we had all day.
We left that little town that I grew more fond of each day I wasn't in it after about an hour. I've never driven thru it again.
Sometimes..............it's best not to go home again.