Southern stories: quotations from My Southern Journey

“My people tell their stories of vast red fields and bitter turnip greens and harsh white whiskey like they are rocking in some invisible chair, smooth and easy even in the terrible parts because the past has already done its worse. The joys of this Southern life, we polish like old silver. We are good at stories. We hoard them, like an old woman in a room full of boxes, but now and then we pull out our best, and spread them like dinner on the ground. We talk of the bad year the cotton didn’t open, and the day my cousin  Wanda was Washed in the Blood. We cherish the past. We buff our beloved ancestors till they are smooth of sin, and give our scoundrels a hard shake, though sometimes we cannot remember exactly who is who.”

“People ask me, often, why I love a place so imperfect, where the mosquitos dance between the lukewarm rain and the summer heat turns every stretch of blacktop into a shimmering river of hot tar, where the football-mad fling curses and sometimes punches and forget their raising on call-in radio, and the politicians seem intent on a return to 1954. I merely answer:  How do you not love a place where the faded beads of a a parade six years before still hang in the branches of live oak  trees.”

“I am an imperfect citizen of an imperfect, odd, beautiful, dysfunctional, delicious place.  But at least we ain’t dull.”

“A year later, I spoke at her funeral. I surprised myself, blubbered like an old fool. For the first time in a long time it mattered what came out of my head, but the words crashed together inside my skull and I lost the fine things I wanted to say, and stood stupidly in front of people who loved her.”

“I know my mother was saddened when she recently lost her dog. That is no reason to fill the hole in her hearts with 13 cats.”

“The children start school now in August. They say it has to do with air-conditioning, but I know sadism when I see it.  […]  People ask all the time, what’s wrong with kids today? I have long held that they have been brain-mushed by too much screen time, but as summer races past me now I think it is something else. I think they do not know how sweet it is to feel the mud mush between their toes.”

(Following a story about his neighbors rallying to help one another after a hurricane) “So I wonder. If a street is made of people, not of oaks and tulip trees, how can this place not be as fine as it ever was? I think the best I heard it put was by Mary Pitts. ‘I always thought we lived on a good street,’ she said. ‘Now I know.”

“In restaurants, I am forced to eat my meatloaf with the television tuned to two mental giants ranting about a topic they manufactured that morning, apparently from mud and straw.  At any given moment, on a plane, in a lobby, anywhere, I hear the TV at war with a dozen personal electronic devices. I am certain that, if I were sitting on a rug woven from palm fronds and dead army ants in the middle of the Amazon, I could hear the ubiquitous song of an iPhone.    It is enough to wish for a lightning storm. There’s that moment when the lightning flashes and the thunder shakes the house. The power flickers and dies, and a dark stillness falls. And you’re swallowed up by a pure, old-fashioned silence, free of the hum of the refrigerator or the air-conditioner, free from all the man-made background noise that makes you feel less human.”

“I guess the best way to tell the story of how I glued myself to the wall of my house, of how such a thing could even happen, is to tell it chronologically. Otherwise, I might appear stupid. But if I walk you through it, tiny misstep by tiny misstep,   you will come to see that such a thing could happen to almost anybody, even a smart person. It began, as all great disasters do, with a plausible theory. It began with the simple thought, I can fix that.”

Appetizers from The Best Cook in the World
Quotations from Rick Bragg’s family trilogy (All Over but the Shoutin’, Ava’s Man, and The Prince of Frogtown)
Why Rick Bragg Writes, from Where I Come From

About smellincoffee

Citizen, librarian, reader with a boundless wonder for the world and a curiosity about all the beings inside it.
This entry was posted in quotations and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s