Rivergator #006: Second Letter to Blackwell
Here are my thoughts in Greenie (the rag-tag Suburban, whose color is a forest-teal green), on my way to the Memphis Airport 4/13/17, 10:00am in the morning.
People don’t care if you’re from Connecticut and move to New York City. This has become a given. You're from New England, perhaps it is a greater feat to move to NY rather than your Boston, in this case. Who knows.
Yet all along, folks have paid great attention to my beginnings in Los Angeles, moving to Maine, and now how I found myself ambling around Clarksdale, Miss. They take the same incredulity when I buy avocados at the grocery store. "What do you do with those! What do they taste like!" There truly is life beyond guacamole, yet many do not understand the fruit at its most basic level! But I digress.
It is more important for people to care about your choice to leave your big city, your worldly experiences and boundless opportunities, to explore or live in a smaller - more challenging - place. Especially when that place is fraught with things like economic, civic, social, and municipal degradation.
Driving (again) through cotton fields, seemingly endless rows of pecan trees, I am invigorated. It is a direct, straight shot through to Memphis. A through-line cutting the heart of the Delta. I've been here before, with Wolfie in 2013, and that memory rushes back along the highway.
Clarksdale is home of the Blues - but did you know that? I see the vacant downtown storefront buildings 'For Sale' (64 of them to be exact) and I feel moved to relocate here. To help Mississippi youth learn to read in their after school programs. Fear not (Amanda, friends in Maine), it won’t happen, or at least not yet. I understand I am ever on the hunt for the next best thing, always moved emotionally by a city in need. It is Maine for now, but Miss. is on my mind.
Maybe I am moved because there is no rat race here. Yet here lies an entire network of fiber optic cable! The Obama administration brought the fastest wifi around to this small part of the Delta in ’08/’09. Perfect for startup, perfect for tech, and perfect for the right person(s) who wants to vitalize a community and even work remotely.
Clarksdale is - Yes, I’m talking to you American Millenial, and Middle Aged adults in Career Phase Park 2 - entirely for you.
(Insert cheeky, mid 20th-century advertising campaign from the city of Clarksdale here.)
This city represents promise, both economically and culturally. Do not come to C’dale to gentrify. Do come to integrate. One must understand there remain civil rights era rebuilding - still. It is not an easy place to live. It commands your attention, ability to stay busy when the winter comes, tourism slows. But the kids. They are great. I canoed with a handful during Mark River's afterschool program twice this week. He has a couple that are apprenticing with him, like Valencia. She is 19 and can handle a 29' wooden canoe (400+ lbs of cypress and varnish) better than many.
I just passed the sign for Tunica airport on the 161, northbound, now 1/4 tank the lesser from Clarksdale. I think my girl will like it here.