Thursday, February 09, 2006

Glory, Glory Hallelujah

Several of y'all know my friend Lea Margaret. For those of you who don't, you are 1) missing a treat and 2) in need of a little background information.

If there were a Scale of Southern-ness, and said scale ranged from 1 to 10, I would probably fall somewhere around a 7. I do the whole Southern Living subscription / cook everything from scratch / love to decorate / take pride in my heritage / would-curl-into-the-fetal-position-if-for-some-reason-I-lost-my-accent thing.

But I don't decorate my front porch based on the seasons, I don't hunt or ride horses, and I've never made a mint julep. I cannot trace my family tree back to the Founding Fathers, I've never been to the Kentucky Derby, and I've never spent more than 24 hours on the banks of the Mississippi River. I do not have a double name. So while I rank pretty high on the scale, I have some definite Southern shortcomings.

Lea Margaret, however, is the standard bearer for the Scale of Southern-ness, the person who establishes what a 10 should be. I met her in college, where she wore mostly dresses and riding boots and always, always had a bow or scarf in her hair. She grew up in the Delta, went to boarding school in Tennessee, rode horses every spare second, and, I imagine, hunted a fox or two. She started her own successful business when she got her degree, and you wouldn't be surprised to learn that her business specialized in silver jewelry and hairbows.

She's the kind of person who, when you visit her, leaves "happies" for you and your family in the bathroom: a soap you might enjoy, an interesting new shampoo, a copy of your favorite magazine that you can peruse in the tub. She can create a beautiful floral arrangement using only kudzu, johnson grass, and Queen Anne's lace. She has a guest book. In her house. And she insists that you sign it.

A few years ago Lea Margaret and her hubby Chris moved to Dallas because of Chris' job. It was somewhat traumatic for LM, who had never lived west of the Mississippi. But she adjusted to life out there and found her way - and I think eventually she came to appreciate that Texans treasure their regional identity as much as we Southerners do.

Right before LM moved she found out that she was expecting (sidenote: people who rank 10 on the Southern scale "expect" babies; they do not "get pregnant"), so while I imagine that Texas will always be special to her and Chris because it's where Mac was born, it was never "home." And if you wanted to see the very embodiment of agony and frustration, you should've seen LM struggle through her first football season in Texas, where the SEC is nothing but an also-ran to the Big 12, where Fox Sports South isn't even a part of the local cable line-up.

Things went from bad to worse, I'm afraid. After a little over a year in Texas, Chris' job required that they move to Pennsylvania. PENNSYLVANIA (not that that there's anything wrong with PA - but putting LM there is the equivalent of putting an eskimo in Hawaii - it just doesn't make good sense). LM and I did some major email scheming and plotting to try to figure out how she and Chris could get back to the South. I even looked for jobs on the internet and would send LM the links, but it seemed like they were destined to be far, far away from the rest of us.

Resigned but determined, just as Scarlett O'Hara would have been, LM decided to make the best of it, comforted at least in small part because the town where they live "is still south of the Mason-Dixon line."

Given all this information, you can imagine my joy when I received the following email from LM today: "We are moving to Vicksburg! Leaving PA the 23rd. We are MORE than excited!"

Y'all, this news is the equivalent of the Starship Enterprise finding its way back to earth. Lassie finding his way home. Dorothy and Toto making it back to Kansas. I wouldn't go so far as to say that it's like Jesus ascending into heaven to sit at the right hand of God the Father or anything like that. But still, it's a pretty big deal.

Lea Margaret will be back in Mississippi again, within driving distance of her beloved Bulldodgs, with the Delta a stone's throw away, with her lifelong friends mere minutes down the road, and with the Mississippi River right there in her backyard. And for the first time, she'll have her husband and her child by her side in the state she loves more than any other.

Welcome Home, Lea Margaret. We surely have missed you.


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