Wednesday, January 10, 2007


I've been chided for making Mississippi sound too good.

To tell the truth, the two times I've driven back and up the East Coast convince me that we won't settle here forever. But we both have the strange feeling of being in an unfamiliar land that makes quirks seem charming and inconvcniences part of the new landscape (don't get me started on the labryinth of drivers lisences and vehicle registrations).

For clarification, our new house is in Water Valley, Mississippi, a small town 20 miles from Oxford. Oxford is the cultural powerhouse of north Mississippi, with crazy expensive real estate (for these parts), a coffeehouse, a kicking bookstore, and great restaraunts. Water Valley, on the other hand, has a drugstore that's straight out of the 1950s, soda fountain and all, an antiquestore/cum tea shop, a hardware store, a post office, churches, and a recently closed restaraunt whic has elected to keep its bar open until the owners make some decisions. However, Oxford used to be a backwater and Water Valley was a thriving railroad town, so it's stocked with beautiful turn-of-the-century houses. Queen Annes and some really magnificent Victorarians, as well as columned brick mansions that can be had for pretty much a penny and a song. The biggest house here sells for about what a townhouse in DC goes for.

Anyway, K. and I are happier to be in Water Valley because it's a smaller town, with lower rent, and the people are falling-over-themselves happy that we're here.

A girl told me that the only meeting place here is at the aforementioned bar. K. and I are not bar people-- in fact, I lay awake last night trying to remember if we've ever gone to a bar-- but we're lonely. And so we went last night, which apparently is "the" night.

We walked in, and the ten or so heads clustered around the counter turned. For the next hour, we met everyone in the room.

An elderly gentleman named Snooky said he'd lived in Water Valley for fifty years.

"Where'd you move from?" I asked.


"How'd you get down here?"

He winked. "Philadelphia, Mississippi."

We chatted a while longer and somehow got on the topic of safety.

"Hit's a pretty safe town," he said. "I've been walking around for fifty years and never got raped."

Trust me, it was funny.

On Friday, I'll be attending the literary club, which meets at the aforementioned drug store and swaps paperbacks. Apparently, they can get right rowdy, but I feel obliged to join since they waived the customary five thousand dollar joining fee "on account of your youth." (Really, I can't wait. And they were joking, in case y'all don't get southern humour.)

Apart from the Texan who's going to work on an oil refinery in Panama and a rather elderly Elvis, I also met a man who's had three wives and who wrapped his arm around me before he left. Luckily, K.'s bigger than him.

We emerged an hour or so later with our two glasses of wine anonymously paid for-- since anonoymous doesn't have much meaning in a town of this size, the bartender had been instructed not to let us know who had. My bet is on the lady who brought us spice bread the other day and vows to get us to join her church.

I am getting pretty fond of all this local color; we just need a farm. And speaking of, I met a gal at the gym who has friends with a 1920s farmhouse on 11 acres of land who are thinking of selling. I jotted my cell number down on a class schedule, and now we're touring her friends' property in early February.

It's all a long shot, but we'll see.

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