Nizzibet drops me off two hours before my flight. She’s exhausted from her new client work and needs to get back home and get some sleep. I expect to spend a lot of time reading at my gate. Instead I spend over an hour getting through security. There’s only one station open in this section of the airport and there are at least a hundred people ahead of me.
Flying into Detroit at four in the morning – I can’t find the city. It seems like there would be big blocks of lights. Buildings. Roads. Maybe it’s where I’m sitting on the plane. I never see anything that looks like a big city. There are relatively small constellations that pass beneath the plane, evidence of civilization but not metropolis.
The Detroit airport is huge. My connecting flight is at the other end of an endless terminal. You could film a car chase inside the building.
The Memphis airport smells of barbeque. It’s 6:30 in the morning. I wish I were hungry. I eat a cajun chicken burrito because I figure that should have something to eat. I don’t know what will be available when I get to Mississippi.
Stephen and Miss Iris pick me up in Gulfport. Stephen drives with an open beer tucked in his lap. He’ll go through at least three of them over the next 45 minutes. Bud Lite. Iris fixes me a Bloody Mary with spicy V8. It’s rather lighter on the vodka than I would have fixed myself. Probably a good thing. I have two of them on the drive.
It’s nature that tells me I’m on another part of the continent. Five minutes from Gulfport we pass a fresh armadillo corpse in the middle of the road. Stephen tells me he once saw an alligator nab a seagull in one of the swamps that we pass on the road.
Miss Iris and I discuss Alzheimer’s disease. Her mother has recently been diagnosed with it. I tell her about living with Aged Mother.
We arrive at Miss Betty’s. Miss Betty is Staci’s mother. Technically she’d be Staci’s stepmother but Staci was never one to stand on technicalities. Argue about them perhaps – but only for the fun of it.
We have gumbo that Staci made for last night’s rehearsal dinner. It’s pleasantly spicy. The flavor isn’t hidden by the heat.
I help a little with set-up by bringing food over from an aunt’s down the road. Miss Iris drives me and Crista over in Steven’s golf cart.
A brief thunderstorm dropped more wet onto the already soaking lawns and ponds.
I meet Charlie the groom. I meet Scott and Crista, Staci’s other brother and his wife.
Staci arrives from her hair dresser. She’s tanned and happy. We talk. We drink and smoke. She opens the wedding present I brought. A video of Belizaire the Cajun. A pair of earrings. A CD of Laura Love. A bottle of Tequila.* She grabs me and we head to the church.
I spend the next hour or so with the bride and her bride’s maids. Many cigarettes are smoked. Debbie drops in asking if I remember her.
The wedding goes off smoothly. Staci is given away by her brothers. Charlie’s daughters are the flower girls. Steven’s son is one of the ring bearers. I don’t get any pictures of the wedding ceremony because I’d dropped the camera earlier and it takes me until the ceremony is over to realize that a part has popped of the camera so it’s not getting a charge from the batteries. The minister tells Staci that she’s the happiest bride he’s ever seen.
I find the camera part and get the camera working again.
The reception is at Miss Betty’s. I work my way through another whiskey and coke. Things get fuzzy.
I don’t actually remember drinking the Tequila. I remember Staci telling me to go find it after she and I shared a dance.
Miss Iris tells me she’ll send me a CD of the photos she took. Until then, I’ve got these.
*Nick sent me the Tequila unannounced. It arrived the night I left. It seemed a perfect thing to take with me. Staci and I have had many good times with Mr. T. Thanks Nick!