a southern year (in review)

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I drive on Highway 49 when I go to visit my family outside of Jackson, Mississippi.

It’s a highway I’ve known my entire life.
There’s the boiled peanut man.
Well, there are a lot of boiled peanut men.
There are also a lot of sweet potato men.

Antique shops. Roadside flea markets. Mom and pop diners.

It occurred to me, while driving this stretch of road yesterday, that it’s been a year since I’ve moved back to Mississippi. I’m very nostalgic about dates like this. Not only has this year gone by fast, it’s also been a whirlwind.

I still don’t feel like I’ve caught up just yet.

I’m also still struggling with my sense of place.
It’s been a hard season for me.

I was lucky to have a few months off when I moved back.
My mom, nonchalantly placing $20 bills in my shoes before she left for the morning.

I struggled finding work in Jackson, so I moved back to Hattiesburg.
Still, I find myself a little wobbly, and a little out of sorts.
So many people I know have found their niche. Their people. Their lovers. Their pets. Their homes.

I’m having a hard time figuring out what it is I want. What a luxury.

I sense that I am so close to learning something about me and my life. I have doors open for me, and a lot of doors I feel I’m left knocking.

Not religious enough.
Not healthy enough.
Not social enough.
Not southern enough.

It is a needy feeling, sometimes in my belly. Some days, I connect deeply, and others, I still feel so homesick for that thing I used to have.

I’m really trying hard.

I’m working a lot, and I’m carrying a lot of weight.

I’m carrying my past, present and future. All of which, looks a lot like me trying to fit a round peg in a square hole.

With that being said, I have felt so lucky to have all of this back.

What I lost, was tremendous.

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But coming back home, I gained something else.

My wild and precious community.

Who feed me.
Text me.
Employ me.
Pray for me.
Pull me in tightly.
And let me, by some miracle, into their lives.

It has been a wild, wacky year.
I broke a bone.
My roof caved in.
I started to build a home.
I forgot I knew how to sweat appropriately.
My dad got married.
My second nephew turned one and I got to feed him hotdogs.
I met a cat raccoon.
I got a bigger bed.
I planted flowers with my niece and nephew.
I started a tiny business and am excited and terrified.

Whew.

A few deep breaths, and I resonate with these words I have tattooed on my arm.

these things take time.
and I look in the mirror, with some weepy eyes, and proclaim:

yes!

surely,
they do. 

‘Tis the Season

Food, Health

The holidays are always changing for me.

In a sense, we want the best memories of our childhood to last. Some of us keep going back to it. That sense of nostalgia and warmth paired with food and tradition.

Granted, some folks grow up with messed up childhoods. So know when I say childhood memories, I’m referring to the formative things that made many of us feel good. Hot cinnamon rolls. A good hug. Sleepy eyes waking up to those familiar sights and sounds. I suppose those things will never change.

This season, for me, is usually one of over-indulgence. My birthday is coming up this Sunday, so it falls between Thanksgiving and Christmas (as it always has since I can remember…) Everything I celebrate with others comes at the ass-end of the year. Which is nice, but usually leaves me feeling worn out by January 1st. I think most of us feel that way.

We all kind of climb into our holes for a few months after New Years, I think. At least for the best parts of my introverted being, this is the case. And that’s okay.

I think more than anything, I want to be aware of it all. These things are overwhelming to a lot of people. Watch a little kid during a Christmas get-together and that’s about what the inside of my head looks like, even while I’m sitting quiet in a corner rocking back and forth. Okay, maybe not that dramatic, but you get what I’m sayin’.

What I want to say, is that we’re usually all over the place. ‘Tis the season to freakin’ chill out. I’m hoping for that this season. To process it as it comes. There are good reasons why we celebrate with each other and I mostly want to be aware of it all. To feel not so burnt out and exhausted. I get too much of that at work sometimes. I don’t think it’s healthy, so I’m gonna try and have that be a priority for myself and with the folks in my community.

In other news from the holiday season, I got some good news back from my latest doctor adventure. And I say adventure in the truest sense because I go in with loose expectations. I could hear hard things or positive things, I could cry my eyes out or laugh my arse off. This is how it usually happens.

But I’m still getting better.

Yes.

Better.

What a great word. There are some things with my cholesterol that I need to steadily work on, but my triglycerides have lowered dramatically and my HDL is higher, which means good things for how my body is rebuilding itself. I’m still losing weight and am at 208, which doesn’t look too terrible on my tall frame.

I’m a big dude, there’s no doubt about that. My belly is here to stay, but as I find myself saying more and more, it will be a healthier belly.

A lot of this came from cutting out sugar — mostly in the form of alcohol and refined carbohydrates (I know, I know, you’re sick of hearing that.) I’m not pushing this in your face. You know what’s good and bad for you. I’m not going to brag about how I eat clean or healthy, because for some people, it’s probably not the best. I had to get better emotionally as well.

I’ve worked hard for this.

And that’s when I broke down.

When I told my doctor, “Man, I’m just so stoked…” I just lost it. He pulled out his conveniently placed box of tissues and I blew my already runny nose. He responded, “Yeah, you worked really hard for this!”

It’s good to be proud of yourself. To be brave and confident. So much of the world is hard on us. To be this and that. To act certain ways while holding yourself up.

But I’m still getting better! And for lack of better wording, I’m so f***ing proud.

This time last year, I was really down and felt terrible. And while I did so much work, I’m also so thankful for my doctor. The dude has helped me with some amazing tools. (And I did it all without health insurance. And I’m thankful for those family members who have helped us with these things as well.)

So as usual, when I got up to write a blog for Southern Belly, I was never quite sure where it would end up.

I’m glad it’s ending this way.

But it’s not actually ending.

Not even close.