Struggling with the South

I am struggling, stewing in a pot of negativity.  I am at odds, wrestling with the South, wrestling with what is and what is not here in this land called Tennessee.

Freshly arrived with the mountain scent of the North still deep in my lungs.  Freshly arrived, yet here long enough to feel the prickle of heat, the friction from the differences.  The beliefs in my soul, the values in my heart, grating like sandpaper against all that stands proud in the south.

Every exploration into this new world uncovering an assault to humanity- racism, disingenuous greetings, religiosity devoid of spirituality.  The true assault comes from pride in these ways, the pride in the façade thinly veiling the ugliness.  It all seems too much, too disappointing, too difficult to overcome.

So now I search; embark on a journey to make peace with the south.  I must settle my soul and shake hands with the south.  We must become friends before I am unable to emerge from this chasm.  I must find the south I can embrace, or at the least, be present with positivity.  I long to be my true self once again and shed the negativity I have cultivated in this unfamiliar land.

I have a history with this land; the south is not new to me.   It has been a place to rest my weary soul.  It has been a space to slow and re-center.  I have taken refuge in the pace here, where hurry is an unwelcomed interruption in cadence of life.

I have rocked on a porch swing for hours, days, reading to my children, watching fireflies, listening to whippoorwills, going very still as deer enter the yard.  I have delighted in dancing cardinals, bright pillows of cotton freshly popped in their bowls, and honeysuckle exploding from the ditches with its sweetness stirring me from daydreams.  Respite from the hustle of life in the north, the south of my children’s childhood is the south I want again.

Now here to work, to grow and experience again this south, I am undone.  This south proves to be weary of stranger and unhospitable behind the façade of hospitality.  It is an ingenuine pretense of kindness without depth or generosity.  Smiles veil hypocrisy and rhinestones dazzle to cover racial motivations. Civility drips off of tongues devoid of innocence humility or humanity.  On every corner sits a church with large white doors sealed tightly to keep in the brotherly love.

So here I am, confounded and devastated, grappling, reaching and searching for peace.  I must make a truce with this land of antagonistic gentility.  I must make friends with this south, find beauty and peace, and perhaps grow to once again love this land.

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