Intersections – ‘I see stories everywhere’
Editor’s note: This is the first ‘Intersections’ column by Nicki Salcedo, a local novelist. The column will focus on whatever she finds interesting about our corner of the metro area. She’s a terrific writer. Enjoy.
I’m not a storyteller. I don’t tell stories. Stories tell me. I’ve been told I’m not Southern, because I’m not Southern by birth or ancestry. But I want to be. I’ve lived here, some easy striking distance from Decatur, most of my life. There were those San Francisco years. I admit it. I left and brought my heart back with me. I came back for the trees and the grass and the stories.
Now I’m home-ish. My husband, that heart from California, accepts my pronunciation of Ponce de Leon with some skepticism. I think my way is right for Georgia. I accept the fact that when I say “Ponce” I am wrong. And right. His way for the person. My way for the street. My life is full of intersections. These intersections are stories, so I must be just a little bit Southern. This is how I know.
I walk slowly. I’ve hugged the magnolia tree in front of the library. I like football and baseball. I can hear the difference between a foul ball and a homerun. I like to walk in the cemetery, not for history, but the unexpected sound of laughter and the menace of geese. I like romance and time travel. I don’t want to belong to any one thing. Even this town. My entire life is an intersection.
I pause too long at the place where two roads meet. Any direction could be the right choice. Sometimes I don’t choose. I merely stand in place and wonder which way to go. My kids don’t stand still. There are four of them. Outnumbered does not accurately describe what happens to us against them. They are all smiles, but he and I have the last laugh.
I hear stories everywhere. I struggled this month. Fire and loss and cancer. I cried for people I knew and others I didn’t. I looked for happiness in the world, and when I couldn’t find it I made my own.
I see stories everywhere. In the post office, the woman behind the counter spoke to a customer with infinite patience. All the other customers were agitated, but the old lady took her time buying stamps. The employee smiled at her. Why should that kindness surprise me? I’m sure there is a story there. I’m sure there is a reason, a story, for why I was surprised.
A woman hurried down the street, Ponce de Leon Avenue, and into the yoga studio. The rush to meditate is not unusual. I first noticed her blue yoga mat. It was weathered and faded. She hurried with her blue mat, but wore red stiletto heels. I’m sure there was a story there. What I love best about the South is the constant intersection of things that seemingly don’t match.
Stories find us even when we aren’t looking or listening or waiting at intersections. I’ve been told I’m not Southern, but I am just a little bit. I like pollen better than snow. I tell stories and stories tell me. Here, we are past the Ides of April, and it is very cold. Spring and winter are married for the day. My car is frozen and covered in pollen. These things don’t match, but I like it.
If you see me around town looking lost, don’t worry. I’m wondering about things that don’t go together. West and South. Snow and pollen. Stilettoes and yoga mat. I’m that not quiet Southern girl at the intersection. If I wait long enough, the stories will tell me which way to go.
Nicki Salcedo is a Decatur resident and Atlanta native. She is a novelist, blogger, and a working mom.