I’m southern and I like it.
My accent rarely comes out, and I believe that surprises people. I’m from the Mississippi Gulf Coast, which I consider to be the “melting pot” of the state. There is a pretty diverse ethnic makeup, and due to the casinos there are also a significant number of transplants–temporary and permanent. Most assume that a small-town girl from the ‘Sip should don a serious drawl.
My plan with this post is not to compare MS to other states…that’s pointless. My intention is to explain why Mississippi is so important to me; this explanation could and will most likely differ from the next Mississippian.
I grew up in a very small area, St. Martin, where annexation always threatened the humbled community boasting half of Washington Avenue, half of Lemoyne Boulevard, Latimer, a library AND a community center. Ocean Springs and d’Iberville (the cities surrounding us) acted as taunting older siblings. St. Martin doesn’t have a “Welcome To” sign, but we do have amazing sausage biscuits at the BP/Fayard’s down the street.
Growing up and throughout high school, I didn’t have the opportunity to take advantage of the beauty my town–or the MS Gulf Coast–has to offer. I’m not talking about the Beau Rivage, kids. The barrier islands that surround the Gulf Coast are just an example of the little secrets Mississippians hide from the masses. A short boat ride will bring you to a number of islands where you can lose yourself in the beauty of the Mississippi Sound.
I never went to clubs or bars in high school. Instead I went to Krohn Creek, CC’s, Sugar Gate, and places that I can’t remember the names of to sit around a massive fire, drink cheap beer and make up excuses to tell my mom as to why I was late when I got in. I worked at a restaurant every weekend that showcased blues artists, and my love for the Mississippi blues was subconsciously born.
You see, my home state has a bad reputation. I honestly think it’s because no one takes the time to learn more about it. The music, the food, the people (locals in particular) and the incredible landscapes can’t be duplicated. From the delta to the coast, there’s something for every visitor. I like to eat local, drink local and give back to my community as much as I can. Faulkner, B.B. King, and even Oprah consider it home.
My advice? Take the time to appreciate where you are right now. I’m in Baton Rouge as a student, but I have grown to love what the capitol has to offer its inhabitants. I miss home daily, sure. Of course my family and friends have something to do with that. Honestly what I miss most is the authenticity of the people I run into who were born, raised, and learned to live and love in Mississippi. I have a feeling the Magnolia State will always be a place I consider my home.