I am continuing to share my essays that I am composing for my eventual book, Swimming in the Deep Red Sea.
This is for a prompt that was autobiographical in tone with the prompt "bitter." As in all the essays this is a work in process but I welcome input and thought as I move forward with the project.
----- a person from the northern states who went to the South after the Civil War to profit from the Reconstruction. Ie: person perceived as an unscrupulous opportunist.
As both Teacher and lover of History, but now less of the former and more of the latter, I find myself in a place of history in a City that calls itself of the now. I have debated if that is irony or an oxymoron and is that debate which marks the first of many contradictions and mixed messages I would find in my new home.
To come to a place with no connections, no history of one’s own is always a risk and yet this is not the first nor hopefully the last as this is not a place I want my marker to rest.
I am asked almost regularly, “Why did you come here? The answer is the question itself. I am adrift but I am still above water. From the moment I dove into the red sea, I have found this water more turbulent than it appears. A City surrounded by a river that tried to drown it once may explain why the City turns its back upon it. And in that too is another message that is not lost.
But as “they” say (a pronoun that itself marks outsiders): Appearances can be deceiving.
The town of singers and of songs often of despair and tragedy in this this City of Now were ones I did not recognize nor care about. The ones that I knew were from another generation and another time from those of the history of my life that seems so long ago that even I had forgotten. It was those that marked a time when singers had stories that despite our distance seemed so close. They were the stories of Women and Men who wore black or coats of many colors or simply stood by their man to bake cookies using Crisco. And all of it washed down with some Jack, as in Daniels. They were guests in my home almost nightly and seemed so familiar and so welcoming. This again the irony not lost, as it added to more contradictions when I finally landed in theirs.
But it was not music that brought me to Music City it was that of another purpose and another need. So a pendulum over a map, a TV show, and a name of a Hospital that was reminiscent of another era, another time and another family which led me to cross that map to land in a city of dreams and dreamers. A city with a street called Broadway but not the one of which I was more familiar. That of another City that has too has dreamers but is a place I feel more connection to than this place I call home, for now.
So as I swim in the current I must find the shore and a way to set that bag down for a spell and see what opportunities abound. Here in the land of Jesus I cannot follow the poem with the allegory about footprints not my own; however, I can follow my own and those of another Smokey, less mountain more bear: Take nothing but pictures but leave only footprints behind. On that it is one thing we can all agree.