NIT Tour: Day 1 (March 20)
What Mississippi means to me is Delta Wedding, the Eudora Welty novel in which the Yazoo River (to the left) & the Yellow Dog train bring people together and tear people apart surrounded by a wedding, cotton, the pride of the Confederacy, and Delta humidity. I stood on this road for awhile, imagining 14-year old Orrin (“a wonderful driver”) driving the car to pick up “Poor Laura little motherless girl” from the train station, thought of Robbie Reid & George Fairchild falling in love by the river. If I could have sat down in the red dirt from this view and read it cover-to-cover for the fifth time, I would have. The farmer tilling the field to the right might have wondered.
But before the literary swoon, there was basketball at the Hump at Mississippi State.
Graciousness all around, and the fun strangeness of Carolina playing in the NIT. I didn’t spend enough time in Starkville; light was fading and I was bound for Jackson and Eudora Welty’s grave before returning to Birmingham that night. Country roads and barely emerging Spring took me to Jackson, which was full of potholes, lots of people wandering the streets in Dollar Store St. Patrick’s Day swag two days after the fact, lots of cops, and Eudora Welty’s house
and grave, may she rest in peace,
which might be difficult, considering that Greenwood Cemetery is surrounded by deteriorating houses and vacant lots, and the shadow of the city’s decaying antebellum heyday.
The cemetery itself is an appropriate level of overgrown chaos, crumbling stones & statues, but I don’t recommend visiting there all alone. The creepy is just too much to shake. I paid my respects quickly; I hope she understands.
Also there was kudzu
and whereas Johnny & June were going to Jackson, it was time for me to go. I drove to the edge of the Delta, crossed the Yazoo, and wished for all the world I could spend a year in Welty’s Mississippi. Maybe I could stay in the “next to smallest P.O. in the entire state of Mississippi.”