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Hill Country Living

Homeless Maternity Look, Cold Make NYC Visit Perfect

By Coulter Fussell

Wasn’t the weather this past weekend great?! Finally, it warmed up and the sun came out and the birds sang pretty songs! My winter dreams for Mississippi had finally come true. And the reason I know that the weather was great is because I was seeing everyone talk about it on social media while I was sitting in a snowy park on an ice covered bench next to a one-legged pigeon that was pecking at the frozen contents of a broken bottle of Korean hot sauce. Yeah. The weather was nice in Water Valley and I was in New York City.

I spent the weekend here teaching a quilting workshop. Who knew that, of all things, quilting would be the skill that would wind up coming in handy for me? Thank goodness that’s what it is because it’s much easier than anything else I do. Glad these people aren’t asking me to teach a Getting-Your-Kids-Ready-For-Carpool-In-Time-Without-Yelling classes or Take-Out-The-Trash classes.

People here are crazy about all things Mississippi. I’m not exaggerating. They love our state at something close to Lunatic Level. Why us? I don’t know. I mean, there are plenty of other weird, isolated and impoverished states with complained histories to be fascinated with. Why not be obsessed with say…all things West Virginia? Or South Dakota? Or Arkansas? Well, yeah, now that I think about it I guess I can see the appeal of Mississippi. Nobody says, “I just really want to go down South one summer and spend a month traveling through Arkansas!” Oh man, that would be so funny if someone did say that. They would most likely be drunk or trying to make a joke.

The first night I was here my friend took me to a great new restaurant. It was totally packed out with very trendy people wearing very pretty clothes. I felt like an inadequate bumpkin for several reasons but mainly because the only winter coat I own is a maternity coat I had to get when I spent a miserable, pregnant winter in London. So, not only was my coat a decade out of style but there was room in the front for a full term baby in utero. That wound up being a good thing though, because when I sat down and looked at the menu I saw deviled eggs, fried oysters with comeback sauce, pimento cheese, grits, gumbo, collard greens, etc. It went on and on like that. I suddenly didn’t feel like a bumpkin anymore and felt more like an expert. I also suddenly wondered why, of all restaurants in the most international city on Earth, my friend took me to eat grits. 

There is this misconception that New Yorkers are unfriendly. It’s just not true. Don’t get me wrong…they are something, but it’s not unfriendly. They can be intense, yes. They can be forward, yes. They can come off as know-it-all sometimes, sure. But New Yorkers are nice. They are interested and want to talk. Yeah, they don’t beat around the bush like we do but there’s a lot to be said for directness. Our tendency to be vague and communicate in a constant barrage of general double speak (say one thing, mean another) under the guise of manners just comes so naturally to us that we don’t always recognize it as complicated and strange. Hey, maybe it’s even a little counter-productive. Just throwing that out there…  

There will be more New Yorkers coming to Water Valley to visit in the next few years. You’ll probably recognize them immediately. They will be the ones sweating really bad and trying to find gluten free almond milk at Sprint Mart. But they will be happy to be there, wide-eyed and eager to see what it’s like to be us. Our most appreciative, well dressed guests.

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