Coffee: Sumatra Medium-Dark, Trader Joe’s Brand
If there’s been one constant direction to my life’s running, it’s been the creep of southern dialect back into my vocabulary. I was raised to talk ‘well.’ This was in some kind of benign, quiet, judgmental contrast to those people who talked ‘good.’ My mom was a northerner, my dad was a lawyer, my grandparents on both sides came from old aspirations to aristocracy. Language is a tool of conveyance, and from the jump I was taught to convey a lofty, removed superiority.
Hell with all that mess.
I was a confused kid for lots of reasons. In middle school, my parents had me in therapy. It was a good move and I needed it. I went to see a Christian counselor even though no-one in my family was Christian. She was a friend.
I saw her for a year in her downtown office. I’d sit on that green-red couch and she’d make us both coffees with vanilla creamer. We talked about a lot of things. She taught me how to watch people, get to know them at a distance, and appreciate what they must be going through. Said it wouldn’t stop the fists or jabs but it would give you perspective enough to forgive the hits that were coming. Good lessons. On my last day with her, we walked downtown for ice cream. We ate in the parlor. The guy who served us said ‘Y’all take care’ when we left. I remember telling her that he shouldn’t have said that – that it was a dirty word, something like ‘shit’ or ‘damn.’ She laughed. She asked me why I thought that. She said I was southern. I said I didn’t want to be. She said you can’t change what you are.
I took a couple things home with me that night, one of them a sick stomach on account of the ice cream. The next day, I said ‘How y’all doin’ to my family. They were flabbergasted.
Well, I’ve been speaking damn good ever since.
Novel Count: 3,546 words
Currently Reading: Autumn, Ali Smith; Cherry, Nico Walker
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“So that I might face my past,
I dug these words from the richest southern soil
and held them in my hands like seeds waiting for rain.” – Brenda Sutton Rose