Yesterday evening, as I passed my roommate’s bookshelf on my way back to the TV room, I stopped to take stock of her inventory. She owns many classics such as The Canterbury Tales, Edgar Allen Poe Selected Works, and plenty of F. Scott Fitzgerald, all of which I have yet to read. Looking through the titles, the one I picked off the shelf was The Awakening by Kate Chopin. Fitting, as I am most definitely experiencing my own awakening of sorts. After finishing the movie I was in the middle of, Under The Tuscan Sun, I carried the book out to the porch, wanting both to get my daily dose of fresh air and maintain the flow of inspiration I seek.
Only 2 pages into the introduction, my mind produces a spark. A new and literary view of my life clicks into place and I understand how to tell the story I need to tell. The book takes place in Grand Isle, not far from where I am now in New Orleans, and the author of the introduction (Marilynne Robinson) dissects the cultural context of that time using an older and more complex form of English which caused me to realize that I had not read real literature since college, or even high school! I read books regularly but they tend to be less-glorified works of fiction or nonfiction relating to geography and environmental science.
I could see myself as a character and my life as a sense-making plot. I suddenly understood the significance of my move to Alabama over 10 years ago: at the time I was living in Virginia, I thought moving to Alabama would just be a chance to start over and that most cultural standards would remain the same (due to the Internet, I suppose). What I now see is that, despite my initial reluctance, the south has had an impact on me and the way I view the world. New Orleans especially has a way about it which the inhabitants adopt, that is very carefree and perhaps optimistic in the face of destruction or deterioration.