Saturday, June 11, 2011

Meeting the Mayor

Dear Ypsilanti,

Allow me some Self Indulgent emotional navel gazing:
Growth sieges the body. It is an unsympathetic pursuer of a new you and much will have to fall away for it to ripen. One manifestation, for me, is that in seeing the opportunities in the Delta I feel like I’m betraying those I have left at home. Intellectually I can understand the false logic of this statement, but emotionally it is a letting go of one place for another. The relationships, memories and experiences tied to a place become cemented in the past. They are no longer evoked in the interaction with a space, but only in long distance communication and mental recall. Transitioning from the stimulating environment of Ypsilanti to the new and invisible (though temporarily so) of the Delta is challenging. Challenging is an inadequate word if one ever existed, but it will do -enough emotional navel gazing.

I can say that my mood has severely improved since I wrote that first paragraph. I had dinner at the Mayor of Cleveland, Mississippi’s house.

(The Mayor is the one in red)

He and some local celebrities created a meal of fried catfish, chicken, squash casserole, cheesy grits, banana pudding, black eyed peas, black eyed peas with rice and collard greens -plus, all the free fine scotch, bourbon, gin, vodka, wine and beer one could want. They do know how to throw a party down here. The community members were extremely welcoming and appreciative. They emphasized how wonderful they thought it was that we all came to the Delta.

When pouring my second scotch someone said, “Oh, Andrew’s Episcopalian.” The man looked over and said, “Well, I can see that he’s the only one who made it straight for the scotch.” The man looked surprisingly like Ted Kennedy. He informed me about the entire goings on of the church and the Delta. He introduced me to his friend who said, “We don’t have coffee hour after church, we have happy hour – the priest doesn’t call it that.” She laughed and touched me arm in the Mayor mansion’s backyard. A 6’5” river tug boat tycoon ran the bar and kept replenishing my glass.

After that I sat with a man who told me this, “We’re one of the few cities that have mosquito control. You see those trucks driving around shooting that smoke in the air? That’s not marijuana, so don’t drive behind it. Every once and awhile you’ll see a plane fly over too. Keeps those skeeters at bay.”
“What’s in the spray?”
“Mosquito killer.”
(He did solve a mystery. Those trucks drive around late at night hitting all the side streets jetting brown smoke into the air. The device in the truck bed looks like something from a Steam Punk novel.)

Somewhere in that evening I realized that I could love this place. The Delta is complicated though.

Mississippi State Flag:

Two Mississippi newspapers documented the evening. When that article posts I’ll let y’all know.
Once back at the Dorm I heard about the other cohorts’ community dinners (we’re divided into fifteen cohorts, and each group was invited to separate house). My roommate had dinner with a Senator and concert pianist. Others ate with the Chamber of Commerce and something called Ottomans, which we’ve inferred is neither the ancient empire nor the furniture you put your feet on. If I had to guess it’s something close to the Elks club.

Post dinner the resident party people rounded up the troops and tromped their way over to Hey Joe’s and the Warehouse. As in our first year of college hook up culture thrives. Give high achieving people access to alcohol and semi private rooms and they lay your ear to the ground for gossip. The peacocks fan their feathers and caw on the sidewalks. I took it easy this time.
Today (Saturday) is the day of the fish fry in Greenville, plus B.B. King is playing close by as well. I got the chance to sleep in today while everyone else went to take their Praxis test (the teacher certification test) – I guess student teaching did have some more concrete perks after all.


Andrew (Staying Iron Tough)

1 comment:

  1. Iron tough! :-) I love it! Love the stories; keep 'em comin'!