Let’s skip the whole part where I say I haven’t blogged in an eternity. Okay, good. Now: updates! Done with school! Got my assistantship to be full-time this summer! Am new poetry editor at Atlantis! Am new assistant editor for Ecotone! I moved downtown! With Eric! Into a pink house! Visited Michigan! :)! And now…
warning: long blog post to follow
I went on a fantastic 10-day road trip to see the real South. And it was real amazing.
The following blog post is a recap with some sprinklings of my actual journal notes along the trip (NOTE: Sometimes I was drunk when I wrote them, but mostly I was just in a rush to get back to seeing things, so they’re tiny and weird.)
Story: When I moved to Wilmington I kept being all, “yay, I live in the South now! It’s amazeballs and I love it!” But then I wrote this terrible poem about it and turned it into workshop and this girl with dimples and feather earrings was all, “we should talk about something: You know Wilmington isn’t really the South right?” Then I probably pointed to my hand and mumbled about being from MI so: I was in the South, okay, so let me enjoy my cockroaches and sunshine, please. But miss lady was not about to let me know Wilmington, NC as my only Southern experience.
Jade (miss dimples and feather earrings herself) became my official tour guide on this road trip. She is in all ways amazing and lovely. I trust her more than anyone I’ve ever known. Here is a picture of her when she was
teaching an all girls bible study horse back riding class in high school:
Jade is from Louisiana. Cajun country, Louisiana. Like, really: the exact location of the Cajun heartland. She’s Cajun, her family is Cajun. It’s a beautiful thing. I bug her all the time to tell me Cajun French phrases (like La Porte d’en Arrière which means “through the back door”).
We visited MI together and she got to see my family and the place I grew up and then we thought we should trade. Jade wanted to make sure I was fully aware about this Southern business and we started planning a long road trip to visit her family. We kept adding cities where she knew people or wanted to visit until finally we had: 10 days and 8 cities. One B&B and the rest of the time we were couch crashing and hoarding floors of friends.
I swear to goodness this is (part of) our actual itinerary, because I’m not normal so I had to write weird things:
And for visual learners:
So, here we go:
We left on a Monday and traveled to Ashville. I didn’t start journaling until we left there but Ashville was amazing. A tiny, artsy town nestled in the mountains. We found good food there and I bought a leash hanger that is an orange beagle head. I know: awesome. On the road, Jade and I switched driving and paying for gas and Jade kept telling me I should buy a real book since I brought my Kindle. (I had some crazy idea that I’d have a lot of time to read? So I had 5 new books for the road and I loaded them to my Kindle so I wouldn’t have to carry 5 books. I finished 1 and ¾ books. Which, actually, is amazing considering we didn’t have a lot of down time.)
HIGHLIGHTS: Harmony Bowl at the Laughing Seed, GF brownie, orange beagle head, not tired of driving yet
NOT SO GREAT: …….we couldn’t find a place to park for, like, five minutes?
We’re fifteen minutes from Nashville now but we went back in time so we’re right on schedule. Jade has to pee every 10 seconds but she still drinks water and coffee regularly anyway.
Went to fancy drinks with Tom and Laura tonight and I ate the best gf sandwich of my whole life. Jade’s friends are the sweetest and I am so lucky. How could I deserve this? So many fireflies on the porch, we lit back signals with lighters.
Tom and Laura are good friends of Jade’s and I met them previously. They are both wonderful people you’d want to be stuck on an elevator with. (or, in a plane for 30+ hours like Laura once was. Remember that earthquake in Japan? Remember that flight that was stuck? Yeah, that was her.)
So much good food in Nashville it hurts.
Went to meet with my uncle and he is in love with Jade. Then we ate burgers where not 6 months ago a man took his life. Life is the strangest thing.
Beer garden after and there was a cowboy named Harry who caught me a firefly with his hand like magic. Everyone in Nashville is magic. Everything is magic.
HIGHLIGHTS: Best GF Sandwich ever, fireflies, Parthenon at night, Hey Y’all Bye Y’all T shirt
NOT SO GREAT: Racist gas station
Onto Birmingham! We stayed 2 nights in Nashville making it the only place in our trip where we slept in the same bed more than once. Woah. Birmingham was just like Ashville in terms of our trip since we only ate lunch there and got (snooty) coffee.
Birmingham just for lunch. met with Laurie who is so sweet and funny. It finally feels hot enough outside. Ready for real Southern heat, “like a mouth,” Jade says.
Laurie went to Africa with Jade. She’s hilarious, and I only got to spend 1-2 hours with her.
To pull a river from its roots
to not find everything dirty
to be in your bed or any bed. To sleep
and sleep and eat the meat of coconut
before sleep. To light matches for the smell.
To be on the road; in the car on the road
needing to pee, needing coffee, caring hands
sleep again. To break bread and bawl in the basement
of a stranger during a storm. To want, really want
and to need. Need like water like place like
dust to know you’ve stayed somewhere long enough
to love, to die.
Woah, melodrama. But, the road does this to people.
HIGHTLIGHTS: people watching, Laurie, pretty side roads
NOT SO GREAT: mean barista at coffee shop
Jackson today and last night. Smoked the sweetest tiny cigarettes from India. The dark is loud with bugs in Mississippi. Our waitress at the bar was awful. Kelly and Steve are so awesome. Hoping to taste grits today. The sun is shining.
Kelly is Jade’s best friend and Steve is her boyfriend. They are hilarious. Kelly teaches elementary students so she has the funniest stories about her kids. I can tell where Jade gets a lot of her jokes/humor when I spend time with Kelly.
HIGHLIGHTS: Whiskey sours, sunshine, Rainbow Grocery Store/Café, Blueberry Lemonade
NOT SO GREAT: Left too soon
Vanilla scented smoke on the way to Louisiana, Jade’s state.
We arrived in Baton Rouge to rain and more rain. Jade was sad about this, but I was so excited to meet all her friends. Jade went to LSU so I knew that a ton of her stories and experiences I’d heard about before would be from this place. We got to see the coffee shop where she worked, the campus (GUYS THERE IS AN ACTUAL LIVE TIGER ON LSU’S CAMPUS. HIS NAME IS MIKE. I’M SERIOUS), and we stayed at Gustavo and Andrew’s place. How do I describe Gustavo and Andrew and Laura to people who’ve never met them… They’re just really effing fantastic. And, let me tell you, good at karaoke.
Karaoke at Skeeters last night. came home drunk and happy to a weak air mattress we borrowed from Eric. Everyone here is brilliant. Kind and welcoming. I can feel the home here.
HIGHLIGHTS: Karaoke, all the food, Truly Free Café and Bakery, Meeting everyone
NOT SO GREAT: rained quite a bit, a little sick
From Baton Rouge to Lafayette. Baton Rouge was amazing. Lindsey and Jade and I buried a poem at Radio Bar. My hands smelled of sazeracs and dirt. It’s raining now and we’re headed to hear Cajun music.
Jade showed me around her hometown. Mary and Jai are so sweet. We drank too much, listened to blues and ate good food. The sky was stormy pink and prettier than anything I’d ever seen.
HIGHLIGHTS: Got a nasty t-shirt at the oyster place, the oyster place was delicious, sunset, blues band, good company, and that crazy guy at Artmosphere asking us to buy him drinks
NOT SO GREAT: no Cajun band, and that crazy guy at Artmosphere asking us to buy him drinks
New Orleans tried to not welcome us, what with the highway shutting down with us right in the middle. After a long detour we made it to drinks and Vietnamese food with Paulo and Margee
So, yeah, when we got on the bridge (the only way into New Orleans if you want to get there fast) we slowed, slowed, stopped. Jade was driving but she got nervous after I tried to look up what was going on with my phone and could only find the words, “police activity shuts down highway.” So, we switched seats. In the car. Because there were people walking around our car smoking cigarettes/killing time/scaring the shit out of us. So, then we’re stuck and we can’t figure out why police activity would be a thing since there are no police, no ambulances, nothing around us. People start panicking/getting anxious and they exit from the on-ramp, they start turning their cars around and driving down the sides of the interstate to get to the previous exit. We stay put until an officer/man with a vest shines his light at us and tells us it would be faster to turn around. No further instructions. This is when we discover Jade and I panic in totally opposite ways. Me: YELL AND GIVE INSTRUCTIONS AND TAKE ACTION THAT IS NONSENSICAL. Jade: frozen.
So, there was that. Turns out there was a guy on the interstate bridge with a gun. He ended up jumping… but he was fine since the bridge wasn’t that high and the water was deep. So, no harm no foul?
Slept on a pull-out couch, woke to a tiny cat named Milks staring at me with her blue eyes. Probably wondering if I was alive. Today, in New Orleans, I am so alive.
New Orleans: amazing. we found a bearded dragon and kept him overnight. Got so drunk on wine and happy last night- feeling it today in the car on the way to Savannah. Scenic route through Georgia, red clay lines the road and Jade keeps gasping at beautiful houses.
HIGHLIGHTS: Coffee, walk-around margaritas, that place where we saw Seth Rogan (IT WAS DELICIOUS and a garden and there was too much wine), found a bearded dragon
NOT SO GREAT: Bearded dragon in bathroom, we thought we were going to die when we drove in
So then we’re on the road to Savannah and we’re excited because the CUTEST people have called us to tell us our B&B reservation is all set and they ask us our dietary restrictions (of which we have many) and they were so nice and then they call and say “Something happened…” so we can’t stay there. Cool. I immediately think someone was murdered there. Jade says it was probably a leak. One of us was right.
We got accommodated at a neighboring B&B and it was gorgeous! So, so pretty and we had the place to ourselves! Our hostess? the owner? She was interesting. She basically has been to school for everything under the sun and she is trying to be a government employee next. I think? Because B&B owning, makeup artistry, coast guarding, public policy, dive bar operating, etc wasn’t doing it for her anymore. She was nice and really sad when we let her know a bird hit her window and died right there on her back porch (seriously) but she was a little neurotic. Let me tell you though, that woman could cook. Mmmm rosemary potatoes under eggs with fancy coffee and fresh-squeezed juice. Okay by me.
HIGHLIGHTS: New B&B was amazing, Flannery O’Connors house, lunch at Kayak, walking along the river, plans to come back, crazy hostess lady, petting farm, moon river
NOT SO GREAT: change of plans, crazy hostess lady, dead bird, not enough time!