Oxford, Mississippi Court House
On Sunday I went to get a tea at Square Books, a bookstore in the center of Oxford, Mississippi. I had just come from the Sunday service at the First Baptist Church, in which its ‘revival week,’ with my friend and wonderful Oxford host, Owen. It was possibly the most intense thing I’ve ever sat through; a visiting preacher yelling at the congregation about how they need to be saved, but how even if they are saved, they might still go to hell. Anyway, I’m at this bookstore and start talking to the store clerk because there are Eudora Welty quotes all over the store. Due to my curiosity about Eudora Welty, mostly because of our name similarities, I ask her the significance of Eudora in relation to Oxford (turns out the famous southern writer is from Jackson, MS which is just south of Oxford). The clerk’s name is Susie, she’s a grad student in Southern Studies at Ole Miss and she’s very interested in pursuing a career in oral history. We talk for about ten minutes, and when I mention that I’m trying to get to Memphis but that there’s no bus there and no one has responded to my rideshare plea, she offers to take me the hour and a half to Memphis.
Today I took her up on that ride and we ended up making a wonderful connection; talking about Kickstarter has made her think about trying to pursue an oral history project and she inspired me to think about oral histories in my future as well. She’s hoping to come to Maine this summer to visit, all based on a ten-minute conversation in a bookstore, a car ride and talking over lunch in a (wicked good) BBQ spot in Memphis. It’s crazy how two people can be complete strangers one minute and thinking about traveling across the country to visit each other the next; all because of a split second decision to help someone.
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