"Look Me in the Eye and Say That . . . "
I was reflecting back on my southern upbringing yesterday. But, like any good southerner - with a passion for storytelling - there's a long circuitous tale attached to that simple statement.
I hadn't always lived in the South. My father was in the military during the first 10 or so years of my life - so my earliest memories are of Air Force bases around the states (and the world.) But, we moved to Mississippi when I was in the 6th grade and stayed through college - so most of my upbringing was there.
But, of course, I need to digress.
Late yesterday afternoon I went for a long run along the Hudson River after a busy day of being in New York. I wanted to get some exercise in - and adding a little sight-seeing along the west side of the city seemed a great idea. So off I headed to the marvelous Hudson River Park with the iPod in tow (and some freshly downloaded GLEE soundtrack) - for a few miles much needed running. It's a beautiful park. And a great place to run. But, what (you might ask) does all of this have to do with being from the South?
Well, maybe it's just me - or maybe it was my upbringing - but, I have the very strong habit of looking people directly in the eye. Really making eye contact. Well, in New York - that doesn't happen all that often. It's actually one of the things that I most love about this city - its ability to get things done. To focus. Head down. On task. So I discovered - maybe 20 minutes into my run - and looking directly into the faces of the people running the other direction - that I was basically *cruising* practically everyone I saw. I even got a few winks back.
And laughing to myself . . . my mind began to wander . . .
Back to a simpler road. A road not bordered on both sides with power lines. A road where pavement might suddenly surrender itself to gravel. A place where we would always wave at the driver of the cars in oncoming traffic - I have such a strong memory of doing this. Just a simple wave. Maybe a nod. Just to be nice. Who knows, it might be a relative . . . lol.
Back to the little town where I grew up. A little town of just under 7000 people - where the likelihood of there being a relative in oncoming traffic was quite high. Or, if not a cousin - at the very least - someone you knew from church.
A little town where Main Street is crossed by Court Ave (where the court house stands) and bisects North and South Church Street (where many of our churches are). And a time when we played outside without the added entertainment of the soundtrack from GLEE. We played outside because there were only 4 television stations showing nothing but afternoon re-runs - and I had seen most every episode of "The Brady Bunch."
Now, I'll own the fact that it was - and is - a small southern town with many of the challenges that most every town faces. And I'll clearly admit - I'm quite sure I've romanticized my memories of growing up there. But, in the middle of my busy day - when I'm focused - and on task - I'll catch someone's eye. And they will truly make eye contact. And I'll smile . . . and I wonder what their long circuitous story might be . . .
here's looking at you kid,