Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Phantom Homesickness

Faulkner calls to me periodically and I go to his books in a hypnotic trance. This week I'm wading through the cleansing prose of The Sound And The Fury letting the immensity of Faulkner's achievement in chronicling the Compson's dissolution just sift through my mind like red clay. I find myself caught up in the storytelling every time. It's a combination of artistry and phantom homesickness for me. I can hear the North Mississippi pine trees whispering to me through Faulkner's words so vivid and real.

I lived in Mississippi for only a year right before I began school. That's why we moved back to Tennessee. Because the schools were better. And perhaps because my father didn't get along too well with all of the alcoholic uncle's on my mother's Mississippi side of the family. That year spent in Ripley, Mississippi is impressed into my memories like no other with events piled upon events. Many of them are actually miserable having to do with feelings of abandonment and helplessness as my parents fought, separated, and reunited while I was shuffled off to relatives and babysitters nameless and faceless to me now. Once we moved back to Tennessee I would still go to Mississippi at least once a year for several weeks in the summer until I was grown.

Each year back reminded of the one I had spent there as a small child. They built upon the legends of that year until the events are as mythic to me as Greek legends. Did I really get up in front of all of the customers in Raney's Cafe and dance to "Dueling Banjos", and did I throw rocks from a railroad overpass onto cars streaming below. Did I sit in a car with one of those faceless babysitters under that overpass as a violent thunder storm blew threw; worried that my father would come to get me and I wouldn't be there. Did I hear my first electric guitar in that babysitter's trailer.

There are no question marks on those rhetorical questions since I know they're true. It's just a small sampling of thoughts crowding my head hoping to get acknowledged and maybe some day I'll get it all down. There's a kind of phantom homesickness that nags and inspires me. It's all so interior it's sometimes frustrating. Maybe I need to get back down to Ripley for a spell. When I get some time maybe I’ll do just that. Until then, I’ll be reading Faulkner.

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