In the Mississippi Delta, the sun rises low and orange over the foggy corn fields. The stalks go on forever, flooding up to the trunks of the trees that mark property lines. You pass tractors parked idly by the highway, aluminum barns rusting in the morning humidity, and the state penitentiary on your left at mile 31. You pass corn, cotton, more corn. There is corn growing outside the Walmart. The cotton sprouts up in neat, defined rows of green leaves and damp earth.
As the sun rises and turns from low hanging grapefruit to wispy lemon, the fog lifts off, but not enough to keep you from feeling like you’re about to watch a civil war battle. That sad song from that Kevin Burns documentary, the one that made you want to cry when you were little, plays over in your head. You expect to see grand plantations with sweeping front porches, but all there is is corn on your left and cotton on your right, trees and tin buildings, tractors and propane tanks. What looks like a pecan orchard. More corn and a few black birds. Fog and a row of power lines.
You’re scared. You’re terrified. And you can’t wait to actually see kids. To walk the halls where you’ll try to teach 5th grade English next week. You’re so happy and excited and nervous and petrified that you almost start to cry. You’re a crying kind of girl; you tend to do it a lot. That’s fine.
You listen to this song. You watch the trees, the sun, the fields, and the fog roll by your bouncing yellow school bus with its blinking white light on top. ”Oh, God was watching over you.”
P.S. In the Mississippi Delta, tornado scares are only minor interruptions and you don’t go outside after sunset because the mosquitoes will attack you from the shadows. In the Delta, you’ve got grit. Lessons learned: 1) Dress like it’s an Austin day in November, because goosebumps do not help you sit through power points about leadership. 2) Don’t pick up the salad in the morning lunch bag line, since that cup of wilted spinach and a few cucumber squares won’t get you through a day at school, even if you’re not teaching. Love.