“I miss green.” This is the thought that I had constantly as we drove through Alabama into Mississippi. It’s taken me a long time, but I’ve finally learned to appreciate the beauty of the desert. Finally, I acquiesce: living in a valley cradled by mountains really *is* majestic (even if the valley is brown, and the only green around is a random cactus). Nothing compares, though, to miles and miles of varying shades of green, and the sight of oak trees shading the clover that blooms along the sides of the interstate. Needless to say, I thoroughly enjoyed the ride, and the conversational catch-up with an old friend.
I have GOT to move to Oxford. I mean, really. I don’t think there’s a more perfect place on the planet for me. Were it not for that whole bar exam situation, I’d be tempted to move tomorrow.
We started off at the visitor’s center. Here’s how the conversation with the little woman there went:
US (smiling): “Hey!”
HER (not smiling): “How can I help you?”
US: (*blink, blink*) “Ummm…we’re visiting Oxford for the day!”
HER: “Oh, you are?”
US: “Yes, ma’am.” (Here, we looked at each other, wondering if we’d stepped not into the visitor’s center, but instead, into this woman’s home, or perhaps the library, where speaking was forbidden.)
HER: “Well, what were you planning on doing?”
US: (*scratching heads and still blinking*) “We were kind of hoping you could help us with that. We thought about going to Ajax Diner for lunch and then to Square Books, and then to Rowan Oak. What would you recommend?”
HER: “Oh, I think you should go to Ajax for lunch, and then Square Books is right over there (*pointing in the opposite direction of where Square Books actually is*). And yes, yes. Rowan Oak is William Faulkner’s house, so you should definitely go there. Oh, and they just remodeled the stadium. I like to watch the light shows there!”
US: “Um, okay. Bye.”
Whereupon we walked around the square for a minute, and then went to Ajax Diner for lunch (I had catfish, which was perfect, and sweet tea, which I can’t get enough of whenever I’m home). Then, you guessed it, we went to Square Books (I could spent about eleventy hours there, but alas, I forced myself to leave so we could get some other stuff done). We finished our walk around the square by visiting another bookstore (where I bought the June issues of an adorable little magazine called Garden & Gun, and The Oxford American, which included an article by Elizabeth Wade, my friend from undergrad. How proud am I?) and then getting caught in a little thunderstorm. During the thunderstorm, I realized that I had left my purchases at the bookstore, of course, so we had to walk back over there. Luckily, it wasn’t too far.
Thank goodness Bonnie thought to pick up a copy of the city map at the visitor’s center. Using it, she was able to navigate us to Rowan Oak. The tour costs $5, is self-guided, and takes approximately eight minutes to complete. The grounds are really beautiful, though. Who knew ol’ Bill had stables?
Somehow I got put in charge of the map after that, but in spite of my shortcomings, we somehow made it to the Ole Miss campus just in time to witness a photography session featuring the tackiest wedding party in the history of time. Ole Miss neckties for the boys, and FAKE red and blue flowers, with streamers, for the girls. Yuck.
Ole Miss is pretty, but it’s got nothing on Tuscaloosa. Plus, the stadium is ugly. And the “light shows” endorsed by the visitor’s center lady? Yeah, it’s just the lighted scoreboard that runs around the perimeter of the stadium. Poor woman has no idea what a pretty stadium looks like. She should go visit Bryant-Denny.
After that, we figured we’d seen about all that Oxford had to offer, so we headed to Memphis!