Well – Tuesday afternoon is finding me happy to be sitting at my desk in Northern Virginia, watching the rain fall outside – happy to be back in Virginia after a weekend spent in my longtime former home state of Mississippi. The trip still feels like a whirlwind when I think about it…from the moment we arrived it seemed we were hopping from here to there doing all manner of things and trying to see family and friends in the short time we had.
My mom, dad and I flew into Atlanta and met up with my sister before hopping into a rental car to drive the four and half hours to central Mississippi where a large portion of the family lives. We arrived in Meridian around 7:00 and met up with my Aunt and cousin (the bride to be) at a nail salon for pedicures and it was oh so nice to finally be out of the car…for just a little while. After a much needed pedicure, we drove on to my grandmother’s (henceforth referenced as Nanny) house for some homemade vegetable soup and visiting before falling into bed exhausted.
We slept in on Friday morning – this would be the ONLY morning that would happen – and my sweet Nanny made us breakfast before we headed out and about for the day…snapping pictures in front of the trees my grandparents had planted in their yard; one for each grandchild, somehow the only three that survived were mine, my sister’s and my cousin Jodi’s… My younger sister had a hair appointment at 11:00 and so we passed the time while she got a trim and then had lunch at Mugshots; a burger joint that is pretty much a Mississippi institution, the original Mugshots was in my college town of Hattiesburg.
We also did a little shopping at the Atrium, a local “store” of sorts that has numerous stalls with everything from antiques to boutique style clothing and handmade items. Lindsey and I (of course) picked up a couple clothing items before printing a picture at Walgreens and grabbing some kids clothing for friends at a boutique called Purdy Kids.
We met up with friends at San Marcos – a Mexican restaurant that was one of our favorite while we lived in Mississippi and had a rather loud and delicious dinner, catching up and sharing stories. There is very little I miss about Mississippi; which might seem harsh, but the people gathered around the table on Friday night…those people are what I DO miss.
Saturday morning we were up and at ’em to go meet my Dad’s side of the family for breakfast at IHOP…we were even able to gaze into the giant sinkhole that opened in the IHOP parking lot over a year ago. It’s still not filled in and so after stuffing myself with Cinnistack Pancakes, I wandered over and gazed into the depths of the sinkhole…yikes!
After finishing breakfast, we stopped at Wal-Mart (what trip doesn’t require some sort of visit to Wal-Mart?!?) for cold medicine (the dramatic change in temperature did not sit well with my throat/nose/head…) and then popped in to visit my Great Uncle & Great Aunt. The visit was shorter than we’d intended…but we noticed that the back tire of our rental car was losing pressure and after close inspection, my Dad found a sharp piece of metal embedded in the tire. We quickly found a tire shop to patch the tire; we were going to need those wheels to get us to the wedding…and Jackson…and back to Atlanta…
Blessedly, we found a tire shop and within 15 minutes, the tire was patched. I was so glad to have a couple hours to relax and let the medication I’d taken kick in – I’d started to feel pretty rough, but the DayQuil went to work and that feeling passed. In the early afternoon, my sister and I began getting ready for the wedding (my parents and Nanny had already left)…and I made the mistake of curling my hair. I forgot Mississippi is where anything besides straight hair goes to die…and all my curling was for naught. Oh well. We set out for the middle of Alabama with our tag-along McKenna…
Once we arrived at the wedding, although we hadn’t officially been asked to be a part of the wedding…my cousin’s wedding coordinator put my sister and I to work; I handed out programs and my sister encouraged guests to sign the couple’s picture. While standing outside I came to the realization that Mississippi is SO much warmer than I remembered. It was an uncomfortable realization and the humidity hung over the wedding like a blanket… You guys – it is SO HUMID in Mississippi. So humid. I have obviously managed to put the intense humidity away in my mind but the reality came back with smothering clarity.
The wedding was lovely and could not have been more perfectly tailored to my cousin Jodi and her new husband Michael. Jodi looked beautiful and every aspect of the ceremony was a reflection of the two of them and the start of their life together – it was perfect for the two of them.
After the wedding ended, everyone snapped pictures and then the reception began in earnest. Jodi and Michael shared their first dance, cut the cakes and then encouraged everyone to join them on the dance floor… Not too many people seemed interested in coming out on the dance floor; everyone did the Cupid Shuffle and then almost everyone left the dance floor, I kept on dancing and happened to look up to see that the only six people on the dance floor were myself, my sister, my cousins Jodi and Colton and their parents, Beth and Neil. The six of us were basically doing our own performance…
I should mention – my parents “won” the dance portion for the couple who had been married longest. At 35 years and counting, they ended up being the couple still out on the floor with Jodi and Michael… Later in the evening, after the bride and groom had departed and we were riding home, my Nanny offered up that she was so tickled to see all her grand kids on the dance floor. She also said she had not doubt we’d all be out on the dance floor because we all had rhythm…and we’d gotten that rhythm from her! Once we returned home, we changed all the clocks but the extra hour didn’t matter – I could not keep my eyes open and once I took NyQuil, all bets were really off.
Sunday morning we were up even earlier to join my Nanny for church – the church that I attended for most of my life. If was so nice to see the faces of sweet people I grew up knowing; but it was also nice to once again have confirmation that moving to Virginia was the right choice for me. The heat in Mississippi hasn’t changed much and some people are just the same as that humid and oppressive Mississippi weather. A few years ago I would have been crushed by that visit to a familiar place and the familiar attitudes of certain people – but no longer. I can say with certainty that returning to a place you once called “home” is not always easy but it is often eye opening.
We drove to Jackson on Sunday afternoon to meet up with a new family friend for lunch at Biaggi’s (yahoo for Italian food) and when I was done having lunch, I excused myself and ran over to Barnes and Noble to catch up with my sweet friend Kristen; I finally got to meet not just her husband but her sweet daughter too! After the morning, spending time with Kristen reinforced to me that true friends are such a gift and certain situations will enlighten you to just who those friends are. I’m abundantly blessed in that department and felt so lucky that my sweet friend made time in her busy life to spend time with me!
We may or may not have taken a million pictures…but seriously…how can you not?
We drove back to the big city of Meridian and picked up pizza on the way to my Nanny’s house, where we were joined by friends and family for a little more visiting. We chatted over pizza and leftover wedding cake, laughed until we were in tears and soaked up each other’s company. It was a really nice way to spend our last night of the whirlwind weekend.
Monday morning saw us up at our earliest yet to make the drive back to Atlanta to return the rental car and catch our flights home. We arrived in Atlanta with plenty of time to spare and had a late lunch together at PF Chang’s – my fortune cookie said “travel and adventure will feed your soul”…and I think that’s a pretty fantastic fortune.
We wandered through the faux forest setting between concourses and then we parted ways for a couple weeks (Thanksgiving is coming y’all…). I enjoyed our flight not much at all – and honestly – it wasn’t even that bad, but I just was not feeling it and so when we finally landed (slammed onto the ground) in DC, I was thrilled. A short ride to pick up our car, a quick drive home and I was reunited with my sweet pup once more!
Mississippi is much the same as it was when I left it – this trip was my first return to Mississippi since March of 2016 and it’s been even longer than that since I was in the town I grew up in. I love “my people” in Mississippi…but Virginia has thoroughly stolen my heart and I love even more the life I have built for myself here.
It’s a special kind of blessing and curse to have people you love spread across the country. What a gift to know that in other states there are people that love you and are thinking of you…even if the curse of it all is that you don’t get to see those people as often as you’d like.