Sunday, February 28, 2010

To Clinton, Mississippi

Dear Clinton,

I'm sorry I dismissed you, in high urban snobbery, as being a suburb that we didn't want to live in. I'm sorry I thought Vicksburg, in all its urban chic, would be the place we'd want to live. (It isn't, and we don't.) Turns out Vicksburg is neither the bustling metropolis I had hoped for (ha!) nor is it even a comfortable suburb with all the amenities, but rather an aged woman snoozing on a front porch in widow's weeds while the floorboards decay around her.

Ah, yes--drama. Nothing like a day inside the car to increase my sense of hyperbole. But, I digress.

So, Clinton--I understand now why most of the lab folks like to call you home. Spookily enough, someone took our hometown, cloned it, doubled its size, and then plopped it down in Mississippi... and there you are. Possibly our future home for quite awhile. So it's time to roll up our sleeves, grab a rake & hoe, and get back to our roots.

Dear Clinton Visitor's Center,

What a first impression! You had friendly volunteers, fun crafts, interesting displays and local folks pickin' & grinnin' at one of the Olde Time Music Jam Sessions--bluegrass as it's meant to be! It will be hard to leave our home here in Atlanta, but if we move to Clinton, I know we can make a new home here.

Dear Clinton School District,

You group all your schools by age, not location--just like our hometown. I love that. I love that the kids are together all through their elementary and secondary years, and especially that there isn't a poor school on the other side of the tracks across from the rich school. Which all-too-often translates into a black school and a white school, when all's said and done. I love knowing that Annabel's classmates would come from a variety of backgrounds, ethnicities, socio-economic status, educational backgrounds, etc. (It may be too much to hope for more variety of political leanings, but we'll see.) Not utopia, and there are certainly cliques, but it's a great start.

And the High School colors are red, black & white? They're not the Rams (rather, the Arrows, so I'm curious what the mascot looks like!), but it's still a wild coincidence...

Dear cups (an espresso cafe'),

Hallelujah! There's hope! You're a chain, and your espresso machines are set to automatic, much to Kennan's disappointment. BUT--you well understand that THERE IS NO X IN ESPRESSO and I'll forgive your whipped cream cans for the fact that you do have high chairs (and I'm guessing, though I didn't check, a changing table in the bathroom). Even the best coffee shop in the world--still always first in our hearts--doesn't have that. Ahem.

So I could spend many a day enjoying your free wifi and quirky atmosphere. Meanwhile, Kennan has informed me that he's going to ask the baristas at Octane to teach him their ways... which will require, at some point, the purchase of an espresso machine that is not set to automatic. I've told him that is fine as long as I get my digital SLR and time with Kate & Bobbi Jo to learn the secrets of their ways. But I apologize for putting an innocent coffee shop in the middle of friendly marital negotiations.

We'll be back, little coffee shop! I hope you have frequent customer cards.

Dear Pentimento,

Fabulous! I love used book stores, and am quite enjoying my Greg Bear find, thank you. I love the story behind your name, the framed quotes scattered about the place, the squooshy arm chairs, and even the eerie cat curled up on one of those arm chairs (I suspected taxidermy, but was too afraid to ask).

Nice Owner Lady, it was so great to meet you and talk about books and churches and babies and art and towns (large & small) and all sorts of other good things. Thank you for your friendly manner and interest. And thank you for being yet another awesome example of racial reconciliation as it is clear that your cross-cultural friendship with the Nice Lady from Chicago is both real and deep. I hope I get to see you again soon and buy more books that I don't quite need!

Dear Newk's Express Cafe,

You're a fun little chain. Your chicken gumbo was fabulous, I thoroughly enjoyed the shrimp po'boy, and maybe someday I'll get up the nerve to order the pimento cheese sandwich. Maybe.

Dear Mississippi College,

You look nice. I hope I get to meet students and faculty on your hallowed grounds and really dig into their lives and be a help to them, even if just volunteering a few hours a week. I am impressed that although your sign proudly proclaims that you are "STILL UNDER BAPTIST CONTROL," you were the first co-ed college in America to grant degrees to women. "STILL UNDER BAPTIST CONTROL," really? That cracks me up. Back to our roots, indeed.

Dear Lily's Asian Emporium,

Awesome. If we move to Clinton, it's nice to know that we can still get our fish sauce and curry paste. And the fact that your Nice Owner Lady was born and raised in the Hunan Province, relocated to Clinton (culture shock!), then went to Singapore but decided to move back, says something about Clinton as a community.

Dear Dave Ramsey,

Yes, you were in Clinton, MS. You followed us there. And although you can be harsh and I don't necessarily agree with your political leanings (nor some of your theology), I do see that we don't need to run out and buy a house just because Kennan will finally have the decent salary he deserves. We will save up for a good down payment, dagnabbity. But the apartment complexes in Clinton have tested my resolve for sure. I guess the college students don't mind a little funk and there just aren't enough young professionals to warrant a higher level of apartments. Sigh.

Well, God will provide something that Annabel can crawl around in without being attacked by bugs or rodents too much and hopefully we'll get to know our neighbors.

Dear Kennan Crane,

You were in Clinton, MS, and thus Annabel and I were, too. We love you, and we're proud of you, and since home is where the heart is, we'll make a home with you wherever we end up!

I still want my digital SLR out of your first paycheck.

(the future) Mrs. Dr. Kennan Crane

Friday, February 26, 2010

To Vicksburg, Mississippi

(I know it's been literally years since I last wrote. But if we move to Vicksburg, I may have a heck of a lot more time on my hands to blog. Although not as much to blog about...)

Dear Burger Village,

Fabulous. So fun to see all the pictures with famous folks such as Frankie Valli and LL Cool J. The burger was indeed delicious and seeing a sweet old black man working alongside a young white woman does my heart good and gives me hope for race relations in this area. Maybe my (mixed couple) parents can come visit here without (too many) stares.

And as the kid at the counter said, $4.90 for a cheeseburger and fries is ridiculously cheap. Thank you, Burger Village--I'm glad you were my first impression of Vicksburg!

Dear Fredericks,

What a crazy small world. Seriously, Nice Owner Lady, your cousin owns George's in the Highlands? How fun is that. Thanks for appreciating Annabel's cuteness. When she is old enough to need shoes, if we're living here, we will indeed be back to shop your store. Although I know that seeing you will make me homesick for the ViHi area, at least for awhile. (sigh) And I doubt I'll ever be Southern enough to purchase a camo pillow dress! "Great for baby showers" indeed.

Dear Cinnamon Tree,

Well, I've found my Swoozies. I mean, you've got it all--Vera Bradley, Trumpette, even MudPie (not that I can really afford any of it...). Fun stuff. And THE BUNNY SLIPPERS. Oh, the Bunny Slippers. If we live here when Annabel's feet get big enough, we are soooo stocking up. And if a tragic accident ever happens to my feet and shrinks them to child's size 10/12, ohhhhh my. What a happy day that will be. Your 50% off selection rocks, and Annabel loves her new book. Maybe I can do Southern Preppy, after all. Katherine will be proud.

Dear Highway 61 Coffeehouse,

I know, I know--I'm a big city snob. I would have sneered at me, too, had the situation been reversed. I'm just in pre-emptory mourning for Octane, that's all. I had such high hopes for you when I saw the Batdorf & Bronson and Dancing Goats coffee signs. My heart skipped a beat when I saw the grinder and I got positively in a tizzy when I heard the classic CLACK CLACK CLACK that has often lulled Annabel to sleep. But then I asked about french pressed coffee and you asked me about whipped cream, and it all went down hill from there.

I know we won't find anything of Octane's caliber no matter where we end up, but COME ON. THERE IS NO X IN ESPRESSO! The words "french" and "press" put together shouldn't confuse you (I had mercy and didn't even inquire about Chemex). And what did you put in my mocha (sans whip) that made you call your coworker over to see before you handed it to me with an evil smile? I probably don't want to know.

Alright, this city slicker is headed back to Atlanta soon. But I might be back. And this time, I'll keep my mouth shut... but keep an eye out while you make my coffee, just in case.

Dear Biedenharn Candy Company and Museum of Coca Cola Memorabilia,

Well, the Coke Museum in Atlanta you are not. But at $3 for admission, as opposed to the exorbitant rates at the Coke Museum, hey--I'll take it! Oh, and thanks for letting me know NOT TO GO PAST THE COUNTERS UNTIL I'VE PAID ADMISSION. I might have missed the 15 signs. Southern Hospitality meets Capitalist Necessity.

Dear Salvation Army Thrift Store of Vicksburg,

Tragic. I think if we move here, my thrift store days are over. I mean, of course you're not as fabulous as Nearly New or even the SA Thrift Store near Tech. But dark and dingy are just not working for you. Neither are quiet and grumpy. At least I got to drop off the giveaway crap that's been in our trunk for quite awhile now! The patron saint of getting lost still appears to be with me.

Dear Emory University (Vicksburg campus) and ChristChurch Vicksburg,

Crap. Nevermind.

Okay, Vicksburg. It's been interesting. Your historic downtown reminds me of Galveston, but the rest of you reminds me of Clovis, NM (sadly, minus Joe's Boot Shop). Soooo... we'll see what God does. I trust in his providence for our family and hope that Kennan's interview went well today.

EDIT: I forgot to sign off! So...

The Snobby City Slicker in the beat up Toyota Corolla