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I'm Probably Never Coming Back Here, But...

At 2:08 PM Central Time on February 7, I found myself west of mighty Mississippi once more. I'll be on this side for the next six months, and when I head back east, it won't be to Mississippi. If for no other reason than the litter absolutely everywhere, I could never see myself living there. There's also the open racism and the lack of mountains. But even though I didn't fall in love with the state like I did West Virginia, its charms didn't escape me either. There are many things about the state that I enjoyed, besides being able to run in a tank top and shorts in January.

  • The live oaks. I've never been anywhere else in the world where immense, moss-draped oaks come right up to the sea. This is because the beach is man-made, but the how and the why don't matter at all. The contrast of majestic oak to pristine white sand is magnificent.

    old oak tree in a courtyard

  • Internet options. This is a random one, but I noticed there are a lot of internet providers in Mississippi. There are advertisements everywhere. I can't say if any of them offer high-speed internet or affordable prices, but I do have to wonder why back in hi-tech, advanced Boulder, my choices were Comcast...or Comcast. 
  • The beach. I'm not a beach person but the beach here is so chill. I've been places on the east coast where there are beach tags and certain times of day people can go and it's a whole overregulated obnoxious production. Coastal Mississippi beaches are simply available. You just walk over or park in one of the many no-restriction turnouts and enjoy.

    dog on beach in sunset

    dog and two women on a beach

  • Normalcy. We're going on almost a year of COVID restrictions now and COVID will likely never go away. We'll have vaccines, but the virus is just going to be part of life, which we need to get on with. I was happy to live somewhere where that's exactly what was happening. I went to restaurants, got massages, went shopping, dated, got more tattoo work done, went to bars, went for runs without wearing a buff to pull my buff over my face when I passed other people. All the things. Yes, I still wore a mask when required. No, I didn't get COVID. 
  • An alternative to Valentine's Day. You may be surprised to learn that Mardi Gras in America started in Mobile, Alabama and is celebrated across the whole coast from Mobile to New Orleans. People keep Christmas trees up and decorate them with Mardi Gras ribbons and baubles in January. If you walk into Walmart or Target, you see a wall of Mardi Gras decorations and very little for Valentines. Quite nice!

    Mardi Gras decorations on a house

    woman in front of Mardi Gras decorated tree

  • Vibrating houses. There's a frequently used train track that follows the coast and the raised houses, as my rental was, would shake whenever the trains went by. Just one of the experiences that made this stay unique!
  • Parkways. Mississippi is filled with parkways instead of highways, which would make driving quite nice...except for all that goddamn litter. Miles and miles of garbage, lining the Mississippi scenic byways. Such a shame. The one exception is Natchez Trace, which is part of the National Parks Service. It was immaculate and I might even dare say it's the most beautiful road in America.

  • Town names. The names are so...aspirational? Stoic? Puritanical? I'm talking about towns named Success, Liberty, Union, Olive Branch, and the newly hyper-planned community of Tradition. They also love to name towns after presidents and French explorers, but the life goal noun names stuck out to me most.
  • Flowers in bloom in February. Enough said.

    blossoms on tree above brick wall

  • Neon lights on the water. City lights at night have always captivated me, the brighter and more colorful the better. Biloxi is a mini version of Las Vegas and all those shiny lights sparkling off the water on a warm January evening as I cruised down highway 90 at 60 miles an hour at 11 o'clock at night had a very 1950s Hollywood movie type effect on me. They made me feel alive and in love with being alive.
  • The birds. Mississippi has the best birds.

    great blue heron and seagulls

    egret in a swamp

So yes, even though I'll likely never go back, I really had a great time. So long, coastal Mississippi!