Going Back To Where I Began
Because of the COVID-19 pandemic, I’ve returned to my rural south-central Mississippi home place after happily living elsewhere (Atlanta, Denver, Charlotte) for about 30 years. While I’m actually employed in Charlotte, North Carolina, I’ve been working remotely since March 13, 2020. I have no idea if I’ll still be employed in the coming days and there are absolutely no guarantees. My apartment lease in Charlotte ended in mid-September and I did not feel comfortable renewing since it is basically impossible to get out of a lease in North Carolina without damaging one’s credit rating. I’m currently employed in the non-profit performing arts sector and we’ve been dark since March 13, 2020. Luckily, my job has been spared in the significant layoffs my organization has been forced to do in order to remain in existence. Since it appeared working from home would continue, and there was no guarantee of a job, I needed a place to live where I wouldn’t have to sign a lease and hopefully have minimal costs. A thought popped into my head.
Years ago, I inherited a small cottage (actually two cottages, three barns, and several little out-buildings) on 75 acres in south-central Mississippi from my beloved great aunt Dorothy. The place had been under the care of my now 84 year old mother for about 20 years since she was deeded life estate, but at some point things went downhill. Both houses had been closed up for a long time with basically no maintenance. Could I actually move back home after all these years and live (at least temporarily) where I grew up? I went for a weekend visit to see if moving into the newer (circa 1940) cottage was doable. What I found was overgrown, neglected, stuffed full of unwanted furnishings, and in need of major plumbing repair. Am I really considering this?
Evidently, I love a challenge so the decision was made to move 600 miles back to the place where I grew up. Yes, that place. The place I hated with a vengeance because of the way I was treated until I left years ago: bullied, called names (sissy, Pauline, Paula), mocked, made fun of, outcast and generally scorned as an alien from another planet. There’s little to do and, even without a raging pandemic, no social opportunities to speak of for an out gay man in his mid-50’s. Heck, there are no social opportunities for anyone there. It’s the kind of place where high school graduation dances are banned. The people are generally uneducated, uncultured and heavily sided to one particular political party that is currently headed by an orange-tinted buffoon — and deeply (evangelical) religious in a cult-like fashion. Hell is expected to open up its gates at any moment and the population seems to live in constant fear that something horrible will happen to them. The only thing really horrible is their only source of information is Fox News and their major retail option is Walmart. They don’t travel abroad and they don’t care what is going on in the rest of the world. Most people don’t even travel out of state — or much further than the next town or county. I thought, “Well, there’s nothing to do in Charlotte (or anywhere) right now, so it won’t be much different living alone in the country.” I’ll just keep to myself, talk to no one except my friends in distance places, do my job remotely, and work on my little place that needs so much love — until COVID is over. Something to love is what I’m probably really looking for.
What prompted me to write this article on a very dreary, rainy, chilly, gray post-Thanksgiving morning was the sight of the little Christmas tree I put up in the living room. A few days ago, I purchased a Norfolk pine and put a string of tiny white lights on it. Some laser cut wood ornaments were found at Walmart for $4 and those went on it, too. I thought, “It’s time to start the blog entries about this adventure.” Why the sight of the little tree prompted me, I do not know. Encouraged by one of my very best friends in Atlanta, it’s my intent to write a chronicle about this move back to my childhood home, what it takes to live in a dilapidated cottage, and other experiences during the COVID-19 pandemic. I really never thought I’d return to live here after doing everything I could to get away, and stay away, from it. Let’s see how it goes, shall we?