April 10, 2009
I have had the great good fortune of loving two cities that other people find fascinating. Both Columbus and New Orleans are beautiful, and rich with history. They are much desired destinations for those who live in generic places where life has a sameness and the houses are unnamed.
But, the advantage of living in interesting cities is often a double-edged sword. Sometimes, you just want to say, "This is not Disneyland. It is my home."
I once worked on a paddle-wheeler that took two-hour cruises up and down the Mississippi River. The range of questions we fielded was hilarious. Once, a man asked me if this were a "man-made" river. Guess he didn''t know much about the country, history, or even about nature. (Yes, he was an American.)
We got queries like, "What time does the 2:30 cruise leave?", or, "How much is the free map?" Some people go on vacation and forget to pack their brain.
I remember seeing a plaque in a coastal Florida tourist-town gift shop that read, "If it''s tourist season, can we shoot them?" Rather insulting, since tourism was the reason for the town''s existence.
While travelling in the Yucatan, I met a girl wearing a T-shirt that read, "I''m not a tourist. I live here." That one, I understood.
But, Columbus is not the creation of some resort mogul. It is not "Dollywood" or "Six Flags." It is real, and so much more precious than a city made of stage flats and simulated photo-ops.
My friends have discovered a way to reclaim our home. We become pilgrims in our own city. There are houses to visit, concerts, theatre, and all at the most lovely time of year.
Chris and I were so happy to join Jo Shumake and her guests at the Pilgrimage Ball. It was much like the Mardi Gras balls, but more relaxed and more fun.
I feel sorry for anyone who missed the Possum Town Yard Sale at The Farmers'' Market. I won''t bore you with the list of wonderful things I found, most for less than $5. However, if anyone is knowledgeable about Goebel porcelain (not the charming Hummel figures), please contact me.
My piece is of a woman tennis player, signed "Frobek." That one was $1, and I am certain that it is valuable.
I bought a "Wonder Horse," the plastic steed on a frame with springs that you remember from childhood, only $2. Yes, it is for me. It will be more of a sculptural element than a toy.
Chris and I never miss "Tales From The Crypt." Although the presentation does not change, the stories do. So, if you have seen it in years past, you really haven''t seen it. The opportunity to explore Friendship Cemetery on a cool spring evening makes it even more magical and mysterious.
The artisans market at The Tennessee Williams Welcome Center was wonderful, with crafts and the best fried oyster sandwich that I have found in Mississippi. We even made it to the rummage sale benefiting the Columbus-Lowndes Humane Society.
The role of pilgrim is truly exhausting. We just had to take a break at the two most recent additions to our downtown, Huck''s Place and the new club in the former D. C. Music space. It seemed that we knew everyone in there. So, I suppose we were not the only locals who venture out among the visiting pilgrims.
Tourists will always have the idea that a place was created just for them. My two grand dames, New Orleans and Columbus, wear that mantel with grace. That, I suppose, is the karma of a beautiful woman. They do not make cruel comments, or print them on plaques. "You are welcome here," they seem to whisper.
But, I must add, they are elegant and aged and must be treated with dignity. Both are my home.
Adele Elliott, a New Orleans native, moved to Columbus after Hurricane Katrina. E-mail reaches her at [email protected]
Adele Elliott, a New Orleans native, moved to Columbus after Hurricane Katrina.