You can haul yourself out of the south, but it will follow in your bones. Forever. Some little inner kudzu vine will twine itself around your tendons, work its way into your heart and plant a grain of, say, Chesapeake Bay sand or Okefenokee peat that forever tilts your compass south. If you turn out to be a writer, here’s what the ineluctable southern compass will ordain you to be: a storyteller.
Storytelling is what the south is about. Black, white and native American before, it’s the way we made sense of things like hard times, tar-melting heat and mosquito-filled nights; the way we remembered things like rainbow-colored skies and foggy mountaintops and the sound of cicadas in the early evening. Not to mention your mama’s Sally Lunn.
My stories – being a couple of generations before your stories but who’s counting? – are about unlocked front doors in small towns where the railroad tracks run down the middle of Main Street. About people and events that move with the speed of molasses before the spring thaw. About turning cartwheels barefoot in new-mown grass. And about humankind in all its goodness, the complex darkness just below like iridescent jellyfish trailing seductive, luminous ribbons that sting. Little fictions that add up to Truth.
Stories, sometimes, are all we have. The southern compass takes you to them.
Causes Fran Johns Supports
Compassion & Choices of N.CA
San Francisco Interfaith Council