Saturday, February 5, 2011

home is where the heart is

"You have Mississippi; it never leaves you." - Willie Morris

"To understand the world, you must first understand a place like Mississippi." -William Faulkner

"I talk about all the things that I really needed to make me happy at that point in time were outside of Mississippi, and now all the things that I need to make me happy are back there." -Sela Ward

Growing up I always disliked living here. I tolerated Jackson but also spent my years waiting for my life to really “begin” once I moved away.

Far away.

I dreamed of going to school in New York and becoming famous for my dramatic talents on Broadway. After my adventures in New York, I planned on moving to California and living there forever. My plans to attend Loyola Marymount University in Los Angeles were abruptly changed May of my senior year in high school. At the last minute, due to unforeseen circumstances, I decided to attend the University of Alabama. It wasn't California, but in my mind I was at least getting out of Mississippi.

After many years of searching, I found my soulmate while dreaming away my life at Disney World during a college internship. Everything changed. We moved back to Mississippi, and I was still trying to get away.

“Let’s move to Charleston, Nashville…Miami!” I would say.

Anywhere but here....anywhere but Mississippi.

After spending the first few months of marriage trying to get away, I finally accepted that we would be here a little while due to our jobs. We began exploring our town on the weekends. Since Danny had never lived here before, everything was new to him. Seeing everything through his eyes was like seeing it for the first time. We saw places I had never seen before, and being with him made even the most mundane thing seem so exciting. I experienced Mississippi as an adult - not a bratty, entitled teenager.  Everything I used to hate was now so beautiful. 

My love/hate relationship with my home state turned into something very bittersweet. We were married here, we bought our first house here, my parents lived ten minutes away from us. I traveled out of state fairly often for work, and I began to feel a sense of pride overtake me whenever I was asked where I was from. "Mississippi" I would say, a grin slowly forming across my face as I anticipated a response. "Wow. Is there anything to do there?" A few years ago, my answer would have been an immediate no. Now? Now my answer is something like, "Yes, in fact there is."

I now take pride in being from the deep south. I feel blessed to call myself a Mississippian, born and raised. My grandparents lived here. My parents live here. It’s home. I like my southern accent and find southern culture so intriguing.

I've finally realized that it's not about having awesome clubs, cool attractions or world-class shopping. It's about family and friends. It's about relationships. Sure, it would be awesome to live in Miami or Los Angeles for a second. But at the end of the day (as cliche as it may sound) my home is where my heart is. And my heart rests in good ole Mississippi.

Will Danny and I live here forever? Probably not. But she'll always have my heart.


kelly, said...

What a nice post on Missippi. I was reading Sela Ward talk about her hometown in the paper a few weeks back and jotted down Missippi as one of the cities i would like our family to visit.

Mrs. Magnolia said...

New follower :) Love this post. I adore MS and love those quotes.