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    Full Circle

    July 16, 2016

    I ended my state of Mississippi journey where I began.  

     

    It was unexpected.

     

    Eric had asked if I wanted to attend a blues festival in Oxford on Saturday. Tickets were only $10, and I thought -- hey, why not. 

     

    Only when we got there, we couldn't find it.  

     

    I called it a twilight zone episode.  

     

    I stuck my head out of the window listening for music on the Ole Miss campus; I did not hear any.  We drove in circles:  around the Grove; around the stadium; around the school.  

     

    We saw a stage in a wooded area, but people were putting equipment away.  

     

    Surely, that wasn't it.  

     

    Finally, we stopped and asked a couple.  The two of them were lugging around lawn chairs and looked like they were going to an outdoor concert.  

     

    Excuse me, do you know were the blues festival is located?

     

    They canceled it.  

     

    A huge rainstorm rolled through; lightening ruined the sound equipment.  

     

    Really?

     

    Yes, we drove two hours for the show.  

     

    We drove a little over an hour to see the show.  

     

    The event was a complete bust, or so I thought.    

     

    Since we brought a cooler, we decided to go ahead and crack open the beers we had purchased.

     

    It was strange drinking on a university campus, yet two police cars drove by.

     

    Apparently, it's okay to drink in the Grove?  

     

     

    Ole Miss graduates will have to confirm that observation, or maybe it was okay because an event was scheduled.  

     

    Eric said, he'd break into some Dutch if necessary.  

     

    While having our beers, a woman and her young toddler-aged son approached us; they, too, were looking for the festival.  

     

    We shared the same information that was shared earlier with us.  

     

    I think she felt bad for us -- she knew we weren't locals -- because she offered some other alternatives both on campus and in the area.  

     

    For example:  The Lyceum and The Square.

     

    We did both.  

    Now, for the full circle connection.  

     

    My trip to the state began in Ocean Springs -- where I met Ole Miss graduates.  

     

    They discussed the Grove (the uppity tailgating) and James Meredith, but I had no context.

    I'm not sure I would have remembered the Lyceum had the concert not been canceled and had this woman not encouraged us to be present to the history.  

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

    As was shared with me in Ocean Springs, James Meredith would not take no for an answer regarding his admission to Ole Miss.  

     

    His persistence and courage forced the university (and the country) to examine its policies on segregation.  

     

    And so... 

     

    Now, I have some context.  

     

    The most moving part for me came when I read Meredith's words:

     

    "I have always felt that Mississippi belonged to me and one must love what is his." 

     

    It was one of those moments.

     

    The moment you realize everything happened exactly as it was supposed to happen.

     

    I wasn't supposed to end my journey through Mississippi attending a blues festival; I was supposed to end it with James Meredith.  

     

    Yes, we walked around Oxford Square, too.  Unfortunately, we had just missed a peace vigil.  

     

    We saw the crowd (dressed in black) dispersing as we walked up to see why a certain part of the square had been barricaded.   

    Now... for the less historical information.

     

    Earlier that Saturday, Eric and I had breakfast at my new favorite place.  

     

     

    You know its a legitimate place when the parking lot is full, and when you walk in, all you see are people over the age of 65.

     

    The place was packed; the breakfast was good; the prices were set in the 1980s.  

     

    Paula -- the owner -- was especially warm and courteous.  

     

    Did I mention they bake pies, too?

     

    I bought two slices:  a slice of apple pie and coconut cream pie. 

     

    The crust was crunchy -- no mush -- probably made with lard -- definitely made from scratch.  

     

    If you are in Clarksdale and on 61, do yourself a favor and eat here.    

     

    I had two eggs, two biscuits, five pieces of bacon, and hashbrowns for like $6.85.  

    Fast forward.

     

    Sunday morning, I pack my stuff and head out from my comfortable cabin by 8:00 a.m.  

     

    Eric offers me some coffee, so I drop by his dwelling (also located on the airbnb property) for a cup to-go.  

     

    I say goodbye to him and his basset hound, Sweet Pea.

     

    As I ride off, I burn into my memory those gorgeous sunflowers which greeted me every day while I was a part of that temporary landscape. 

    Until we meet again, my friend.  

     

     

     

     

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