As the plane descended into Jackson, I took a few deep breaths, looked out of the window and took in as much as the city as I could. Along with my lingering anxiety, thoughts, memories, and feelings flooded through me as we landed. Tutweiler is only about one hundred and forty miles away. The seventeen year old boy who was forced to leave there in the middle of the night returns as a successful forty-seven year old who is hoping to once and for all heal some old wounds and finally rid himself of the demons he's carried inside him every since.
I think about my mother often and try to imagine what my life would be like if she was still here. She was my bedrock, my biggest supporter and best friend all rolled up into one. Juanita ran a close second. I have some guilt about not being in contact with her all these years, and I'm sure she does also. But holding on to the pain and disappointment of our pasts will only hold us there. Resolving them will bring us both present with hopes of a brighter future.
Mama raised me to love myself unconditionally and to be proud of how I see myself rather than how the world saw me. She said God made me extra special for a reason and someday I'll know what that reason is. She told me to never allow folks on the outside to take away all of the goodness and power I have inside. Still, I regret it's taken me this long to get the nerve to come back here. Problems don't resolve themselves I suppose, and hopefully, before this trip is over, I'll accomplish that. But it won't happen without me accepting some of the responsibility myself.
After picking up our luggage and grabbing our rental car, Heather and I left the airport headed downtown for our hotel. It was a beautiful and warm summer day. I'd almost forgotten how beautiful Mississippi can be this time of the year. Needless to say, having never seen the south, Heather was beyond excited, and I must admit, so was I. So after phoning Rudolph and freshening up a bit, we headed to the restaurant to meet and dine with Rudolph, Paul, Rachel and their spouses....