From: Les-Be-Friends on May 08 16, 00:52
The South is not a place. At least, not exactly. Cliché though it may be, it is a way of life, a way of being in the world.
The South…saturates. Rain rolls in in waves, bringing Noah’s flood again and again, leaving behind vast tracts of wet, red mud. There is an abiding, drenching heat. It penetrates everything – asphalt and brick, skin and muscle – and drapes the world in haze, convincing you that sweltering summer has no beginning and no end. The cycle of storms and the humid eternity give a sense of timelessness, a feeling that things here never really change. That the people don’t change.
How tightly do we cling to the past, too, clutching our traditions – bastions in a violent, unpredictable world. Perhaps we hold on too tightly. But even as we take comfort in the known and the familiar, we celebrate outsiders and eccentricity. Misanthropes, misfits, and mischief-makers are our most beloved heroes. Idgie Threadgoode, Atticus Finch, Celie, Huck Finn, Janie Crawford, Scarlett O’Hara…. We love their tragic stories because we identify with the struggle over demons, laughter through tears, hope through hardship, and the desperation to make sense of yourself when no one understands you.
But of course we understand. We talk simple, but a long look into our lives, our past, quickly reveals the tangled mess we really thrive in.
This is a country of contradiction after all, built by beauty and brutality in concert, and thus always somewhat out of step. Here, unspeakable sins are the unlikely bedfellows to deeds of great courage and love. “Love the sinner, hate the sin” is therefore more than an expression; it’s a worldview. We paint Morality in black and white, while in our homes we quietly cherish many exceptions to our rigid rules. And our beloved heritage? A vast catalog of inconsistencies, where acts of real terror stand in stark contrast to extravagant myths of gentility.
Is it any wonder that both gospel and the blues were born here?
To be from this place is to be of it, and those who leave carry a little of it with them always – tracks in red clay that never wash away. And when the thunder rumbles long and low and the air weighs thick…when, after a bitter fight or a deep loss, you sit on the kitchen floor laughing about better times through heaving sobs…when nothing will do but hot cornbread, bacon, macaroni soup…when your grandmother’s voice draws out every reckon and yonder you’d been forgetting to say…when you love someone in spite of themselves, because what else is family for?...those same tracks (ask your mother – they’ll never come out) lead you back home.