I lived up in Waco before it was cool and then slipped down to Houston’s fumes, flares and traffic. I was in N’Orleans after Katrina and watched Deepwater oil wash up on the beaches in Alabama. I sailed the Gulf Coast from Key West to Port Isabel, blasted windblown and laughing across Mobile, Galveston and Choctawhatchee Bays. I went numb driving a big boat up the intracoastal – and brought her back down again. I drove a shit hot car fast and furious on black tar back roads from Charleston to Houston and back. I visited Elvis in Graceland, Jimmy in Plains, Bill in Hope, Greg in Macon, Martin in Memphis, Buffett in Margaritaville. I heard the music in Bluffton, Charlotte, Galveston and Nashville. It touched my heart, and I rolled deep Down South.
I live in Darien now – got a little pink house full of cheap furniture and expensive dreams. A big ol’ trashy camphor tree draped in grey Spanish moss shades the yard under its evergreen canopy. Ancient live oaks shelter the quiet neighborhood and the squirrels, cardinals and flitting titmouse living here. The nearby marsh is my church, deaconed by grinning ‘gators and a congregation of strutting ibis, prehistoric wood stork and bandit racoons. Downstream, golden islands swim in tannin colored tidal rivers pulled in and out by the moon, flushing poisonous mill effluent out to the immense Atlantic.
The past lives in every face, house, road and forest. Yankees think they abolished slavery in 1865, discrimination in 1968, but we know different. Grey columns still tramp dusty clay roads, slavery ripples across the years, and color seals your fate. The monster hides in plain sight, old times not forgotten. But we say “Hey” on the sidewalk, invite each other to sit a spell, wave hello every morning, laugh about the rich gettin’ richer, slurp oysters and peel shrimp over to B and J’s. We fight the monster every day, pray for redemption and fall just short of golden.
I’m home at last in a place broken and beautiful as my thoughts. Here, hard truth is confronted by stubborn compassion and open hearts. Here we laugh at the devil, cry over sunsets, bless broken hearts, embrace the past, respect each other, sing the blues and slow down easy.
I’ll still go a-wandering, but I’ll never be homeless again.