When I broke the news months ago about the move to Mississippi, most people had a similar joking, yet serious, response. “What are you going to wear down there, dude?”
Honestly, I was a little concerned. I doubted that the locals would be able to handle my fancy style, but then again, where in the hell would I ever HAVE to be fancy again?
(Nowhere is the answer. Down here, absolutely nowhere.)
But I HAD to be able to express myself via my clothing, or this just wouldn’t work. It’s a massive part of how I communicate with the world, and since I didn’t know anyone down here, I needed to start some conversations.
On the one side, there are certain parts of the day that dressing requires no thought. Chilling. Grinding. Happy Hour under the big oak trees. It’s hot AF. Don’t go nuts. Just wear whatever.
On the other side, there have been a couple of surprises where I have really been able to let my freak flag fly, and that makes me very happy.
First, at the golf course, it’s a daily laugh. Maybe it’s the blue balls that I use. Or maybe it’s the long, fitted (non-khaki) pants in 100 degree heat. The Jordan XIs. The jewelry. They usually start a “What do you do?” conversation, and then we are off to the races from there.
Next comes the boating gear. Oh, hell yeah. This is a category I never experienced before but where I’ve learned that anything goes. I’ve pulled out all sorts of stuff. Bright fishing shirts, bandannas, colorful sunglasses, hats, and so on. For me personally, this takes self-expression to a whole new level.
Lastly, and the biggest surprise of all, there is a town about 15 minutes away called Ocean Springs. It is artsy, with an artsy vibe, and artsy people. It even has a bona fide art museum, which I am yet to visit, but it is on the list. Who freaking knew? I wore one of my paint-splattered hats to dinner there the other night, and I could see the locals eyeing it down. It’s fun giving people something different to look at and talk about.
Mississippi was never going to be New York City. No doubt. But I have been pleasantly surprised at how easy it has been to express myself down here. My clothing, my tattoos, my hair, and so on are such a part of who I am, I needed this. I really did.
It’s also been one hell of a place to write. The words just flow underneath the sun and along the water.
Next week, my sister and her crew are coming to visit, and we all hope to spend some time at Horn Island. Horn Island, for simplicity’s sake, is a beautiful, uninhabited island some 5-10 miles into the Gulf of Mexico. Years ago, the artist Walter Anderson, for whom that art museum in Ocean Springs is named, stayed out there for days on end to do his painting and writing, ensuring his work would be untarnished by the real world. I am smitten.
Are you thinking what I am thinking? You’re damn right. That’s next on my list. Grab a cooler, some quirky clothes, a few hats, and head out to the island. And just write. Get lost, let the words flow, and not worry if a single soul ever reads them.
Have a great week.-Benj
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