Despite my initial reticence and musing on how I could relate to Flannery, it seemed that within moments of stepping on the compacted red soil, it was decided for me. Almost instantly, I could feel her spirit begin to intermingle with my own.
As if it were too sacred to enter hastily, we waited with respect before cracking wide the front door. Instead we silently absorbed the serenity of the expansive milky porch. At least a dozen matching rocking chairs positioned in a line, as if preparing to welcome callers.
Closing my eyes and breathing deep, I pictured Flannery’s eager face, waiting for friends to call–pitchers of sweet tea on a lacy tablecloth with a platter of pound cake ready to be nibbled, in a proper southern manner, of course.
|Photo courtesy of Roxane Salonen|
A significant time passed and we inhaled her home, walked in and to the left was her bedroom and writing space, nearly just as she left it 50 years ago. Her words seemed to spill through the doorway, into the hall, bedrooms and wrap around the kitchen…I could hear she and her mother Regina, chatting about this or that; and felt how she bravely suffered her disease, not letting it disrupt her craving to write.
And for those who don’t put words to paper, you might not understand, but for us, it is an intense craving. The writer just has to…write; or little by little we perish.
The words, the stories, the curious thoughts that take flight in our minds, are the blood that sustains our hearts; and walking through Andalusia yesterday, made me realize this need more than ever.
Dancing my fingers over the ivories of her Steinway upright, I could feel the irritation of missed chords, and the joy when songs were played correctly.
As I think again on Andalusia, much more is bubbling beneath the surface and I know that Flannery is teaching me now, and her lessons will continue as long as my heart remains open…..I have much to learn.