I’m at the airport waiting to board my flight to Louisiana, while flying is not nearly as romantic as driving I thought I would share something I wrote last year about the drive home.
How do I explain the journey home?
From Ohio till about halfway through Tennessee it’s more or less the same. The first change that alerts me to being in the South is the highway roads, they begin to shift from the dark black top highways to a dirty brown rock. Once you enter Mississippi the landscape really starts to change, the trees grow taller, broader, untamed, and you begin to notice all of the pine trees, the wilder cousin to the northern spruce tree. In the summer you notice the magnolias, and then the mimosas, and all of the bright lively green and dead crunchy brown that was green a few months ago but after three months of blistering heat it just can’t manage to stand up anymore. And then you notice the water, the roads constantly shifting from pine trees to lakes, ponds, rivers, and swamps. And then the vines, covering everything manmade and nature made the vines cover it all, molding the landscape into one cohesive texture.
Two story houses become one story, garages become carports, pop becomes Coke and you guys switches to y’all and the way the sun hits the trees you can’t help but slow down and the way the shadows hit the ground they become a whisper- discussing everything from politics to death to the weather to what so-an-so wore in Church last Sunday and can you believe that they broke up and they got married and they’re having a baby with their exes best friend’s brother and lord have mercy and bless your heart and can i get you anything to drink, are y’all sure you ain’t thirsty?
The journey home consists of 13 hours in a car, with the first 6 being sleepy trepidation and the final 7 being liberation mixed with that belly flop feeling you get every time you unexpectedly run into that person you’ve had a crush on for months and maybe today will be the day that they notice you and maybe even compliment you or ask what you’re doing later. The journey home is falling in love again and again.
As you wind down interstate 20 towards Vicksburg the road turns to a two lane and the trees start to encroach on the road, not touching in the middle but definitely forming a little tunnel.
And the bridges! Of course a land riddled with water is going to be riddled with bridges, giant steel masterpieces always leading you forward. Once you cross the bridge at Vicksburg leaving Mississippi and into Louisiana the whole world flattens out. The drive becomes a gentle winding journey through flat fields and low standing water. The bear crossing signs start to crop up as you wind through Tensas Parish and the next thing you know you’re already in Crowville and the sun has just set and you can smell the earth in the car even if the windows are rolled up. A few miles later you’re pulling into Winnsboro and it’s 7 oclock on a Thursday night but you can barely see any lights on in town and you remember just how small it is. The next thing you know you’re out of town and making a left turn and then a right turn and another left and you’re on a gravel road, passing the old high school that hasn’t been walked in in at least ten years and passing Uncle Money’s old place that’s dang near falling apart and then it’s a straight shot to open arms and food on the table and the newest batch of babies to hold and talking until 3 am because no matter how much time you have it’s never enough to fill everyone in on everything that’s happened in the last 12 months.
The journey home is a deep breath of fresh air, the coldest glass of sweet tea and the smell of everything that made up the you that you were as a child.