THANK YOU!!! to everyone who has taken me in on my journey. I wake up grateful everyday for everyone making this trip possible!
Saturday, March 21, 2009
Glimpse of the South
Alabama and Mississippi -- February 19th
Leaving Georgia took a little time, as I had to say good bye to Mik and Amanda and all the Dogs. The second most notable event of the day once I was set into Alabama was the change in time zone. You see Mikey had alerted me to the fact it would happen a bit before Auburn U, but had my phone not been going crazy for some reason I am still not sure of- I actually saw the time change on my phone and all of the sudden it was a little before I had left that morning. Or maybe the phone was just excited about the time change and chose to go crazy to ensure I wouldn't miss it. I feel like time changes and state lines are important things to note on road trips.
speaking of rambling...
Now at this point I was also facing needing to cross Alabama and Mississippi for the longest day of driving so far. But you see I was going down through Montgomery, so I figured why not add on a little more time and go to Selma. The other big news of the day, was that I had started Nelson Mandela's autobiography on tape. And the juxtaposition makes a pretty convincing argument.
So I continued my way through Alabama and listening to Mandela's story made me think of the Wilson family trip to South Africa the winter of my freshman year of high school. This trip is in fact the reason I had the book on tape from my pops. So now I finally know what the family members who read the book before or during the trip were talking about. And when Robin island is describe I could visualize what we had actually seen.
The drive from Montgomery to Selma left my sense somewhat heightened, especially as I listened to race relations in South Africa. "I found to march with one's own people was exhilarating and inspiring." -Mandela, Long Walk to Freedom
I was concerned when I got to Selma I wouldn't recognize the bridge or would have to ask where it was, which would hurt my pride as hadn't I seen enough photos, or known people who had marched, or seen the Jubilee marches on TV. Well in fact driving right over the Bridge makes it incredibly easy to recognize and I easily slide into a parking space at the Voting Rights Museum. The young woman not too much older than me very kindly started me into the museum and was delighted to hear stories of inauguration. I wish I could bring all my friends who are disenchanted with voting or chose not to or believe only the educated should vote to see these histories in our country and especially the south.
Both my parents said it was too bad I hadn't planned a little more to go with family friends that had actually been there or who knew the people at the voting rights museum. I think there a lot of histories I missed on the road through the south, but I am glad I went through Selma.
Now no offense to Alabama. I know great people from Alabama, but it feels about 30 years behind in some places. I don't know if it is just the look of things or some of the more rural roads I was on, but that was my feeling.
Once I got into Mississippi it was about time for another break. So I fulfilled my long time vow with my friend Jesse Gerard to go to Waffle House. I was a good few hours after lunch, and I really did not feel like a waffle. After a man, who seemed like he probably hung out in the waffle house next to the highway entrance ramp a few times a week for at least a few hours day, left- I had the place to myself. Now I don't know if my new friend, the waitress at the Waffle House, was just super excited about my trip and the possibility of traveling or if I was just super excited to talk to someone- but we had a great conversation. Everywhere I go I have been asking about the economy, and other than Greensboro, NC most places I have stopped have been doing alright. Well the girls at the waffle house seemed a little concerned as the waffle house a few miles away in Starkesville was closing and another in Florida. And I mean there are a lot of Waffle Houses in the south, but I guess they are just very popular and don't close. After my grilled cheese sandwich and conversation I got back onto the road and Danny Glover's narration of Mandela's book set me into the late afternoon Mississippi landscape.
It seemed fitting, after a minor fear of no gas stations coming up in time, that The Long Walk to Freedom ended as the colors of sunset were taking on the oranges that you miss running around in a busy city. And as dusk continued I was driving into the Delta. I am not sure if I have ever been anywhere so flat at sunset, where each layer of color rises off the parallel of the land's horizon. And then all of the sudden there wasn't any illumination but my head lights- until I looked up and saw the stars. I really should have parked beside someones farm to stop and really take in all that sky. I didn't know it then, but at no other time on my way to California would I be in such a rural place at night.
However, I had places to be, a car that needed to rest for the night, food to eat, and most importantly wonderful people to see. So i finally pulled into the Green's driveway in time to sit down for dinner. Unfortunately, I totally missed John, a professor at Delta State that has worked with mom for a few years now. He was with a group of students in another part of the state and waiting another day was making getting into New Orleans before Mardi Gras look more challenging. But I did get to see El and their daughter Eyde. And I mean these people have intelligent kids. Eyde talked for bit but then quickly took to reading- probably some encyclopedia in another language even though she is 8. But this gave El and I a chance to talk and I think we could have kept going til dawn. In fact I really think I would be lucky and hope to be like John and El in my 30's.