Letter from Jackson

Darling Julia,

I should soon come home to Carolina, to the house you love, to the deep old woods I love, and to loving you, forever.

When I get back, I know you’ll ask me about Jackson, what it is like, what its people are like, how it looks, how they live, what makes the city what it is. I’m going to tell you now to clear my mind of it, leave it forever. Once home I do not want to think of it.

Jackson is a fractured collection of people in a city that has lost all sense of itself, a shattered glass best melt and recast. It’s an ugly place; there are few beautiful buildings, no streets of stately homes one expects to see in an old Southern city, just blocks upon broken blocks, mile upon miserable mile of buckling asphalt and falling buildings.

The city lacks grandeur, even faded grandeur, in any degree. Its main street is blemished by vacant shops and offices with dusty, empty, shattered windows like rotten teeth. Even its recent upgrade with roundabouts and verges doesn’t disguise the squalor.

Poverty and racial tension propel Jackson, a volatile combination that pulls back more than it pushes the social, economic, physical nature of the city. The political landscape is dominated by self-serving personalities motivated solely by a desire to stay in office in order to further their own ends. Inevitably, the lion’s share of federal funding finds its way to empower political ends.

I can see you smiling as you read this, thinking, “You fool, it’s Mississippi; what did you expect?” Well, darling, I did expect more. I told you that before I came here. I expected to find people working together, a fellowship of stewards.

Tell me that’s why you love me, because I am a dreamer, and every night here, I dreamed of you in that old house in the mountains under a million stars.

All my love, my being.


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