Red Clay and Chicken Livers

What you see at first is not always what you get with me.

Living in a smaller town than any of you will ever know, I was born and raised in the boondocks.

I grew up fast, I grew up strong, like American Honey.

I was raised beneath the shade of the Alabama pines, don’t cha know, it’s home to me.

I shot my first deer at the age of 3, being held up by my daddy’s hands and the world. He taught me how to hunt, fish, and survive.

When you feel like giving up, you gotta push harder.

I can bait a hook with fresh chicken livers, caught my first catfish a whole 13lbs with my Mickey Mouse rod and reel. I never wore shoes and  still hardly ever do. My feet could run me anywhere I wanted, down the street, through the woods, and even cross gravel driveways, I was not tender footed and I ain’t startin now.

I would play with sticks, mud-pies, crickets, rollie pollies, lizards, frogs, even snakes. (I did get bit a time or two, you just gotta know iffin it’s a rattler, better just throw it on the grill.) I was taught, “don’t never kill no animal lessen you planning on eatin it.”

Home grown food was the only way. Anything else is just silly. “Bless their heart” slips out from time to time, homemade pickles, and fresh figs. Goats standing on 80 year old rusted car frames, that might as well be part of the land they been there so long. Crab apples and salt. Running through the corn field, praying for summer to never end. Fourth of July was always the best, no city lights, no cops, just me and you, these here roman candles and the fire flies. Those same fire files, I’d catch and rub their glow across my face like war paint. I was always prepared for a fight or a rave. Yes, I like things that glow, all around me. I was work-truck ridin, camo-coverall wearin, cotton top with blue eyes and a heart big enough for anyone. I was daddy’s little country girl, climb a tree, pick wild honeysuckle, and at the end of the night sit around the family table and heal those bloody knees and bruised shins.

I would sing every Lynyrd Skynyrd, Garth Brooks, Alan Jackson, Loretta Lynn, Patsy Cline, Diana Carter, Hank Williams Jr, Willie Nelson song ever. I would have rather stayed outta school just to go to work with my dad.

See when I was real young my parents divorced, egg donor moved to the city, of Auburn that is, and Daddy, well he stayed in the sticks where he was raised. I was split in two pieces, my heart was and will always be my dads. My head on the other hand knew that the best thing I could do for my self was a better education and that meant sadly enough, habitattin with egg donor, here in Auburn, the land of the not so free.

My soul yearned for country livin, my roots were drying up and begging me for running creeks where the wild flowers grew steady and strong. I long for the early morning, the sweet taste of reminiscing, watching the sun come up and baby deer frockling through the tall grass. The nights when the tin roof got played on by the rain, the cicadas sung siren songs of eternity. I miss the days of my ghostly past, when the only thing that mattered was spending every second I could outside, sun set and sun rise, I was safe and happy inside.

This is the story of a girl no one knows yet, the little girl who wished to be older, prettier, and taller, never thought she’d end up like this. She may appear just a bit crazy, flaming hair, and so many holes in her body, the boys get confused. The same girl knows it’s better to fall in love with a soul rather than a gender, the little girl who was groomed for sunday school at the Southern Baptist Church, literally a minute from the house, if that. Our house was at the top of the hill and before the subdivision came to our neck of the woods the back 40 was four wheeler land, a place we ruled, where every tree knew your name and your gentle touch. Before she knew of corruption, she was pure like the cotton fields, or the tunnel of tress she rode under every other weekend, there and back. She was sweet if you were sweet to her, she was free and stretched her wings every night.

“She grew up on the side of the road where the church bells ring and strong love grows, she grew up good, she grew up strong.”

I was spoiled rotten to the core, since I was the only child I got away with more. Anything thing I wanted he got it for me. I was long haired and nothing but legs, I was summer kissed and never missed a beat.

Checkin for ticks and chiggers was a part of my daily routine. I was not your typical little girl. I was a tomboy, thought make-up looked silly and was pointless, had red clay stained on my feet, jeans, and soul. Caught tad poles and raised them into frogs, went turkey hunting, found 12 little baby turkeys and raised those as well. When daddy was skinning catfish, she was the little girl who wanted to hear the pop of the insides squish between her fingers. Not gross at all, just having fun.

Every Saturday we’d drive up about 20 minutes and go to “Trade Day” where my dad had native friends, whom had a son, his hair was longer than mine. We never thought about T.V. only if we were brave enough to try and catch the baby scorpion we found underneath some old plywood. Who could out run who, through the back of the booths, where the tree line started. How high we could jump on his trampoline, and let me tell you he was the only kid I knew who even had one of those. We were so small, when their chickens hatched we got on our knees and crawled into the chicken coop, just sat there under the heat lamp and let the little babies jump from our shoulders to our hands. He had a pet squirrel that lived inside a tent in his room. That thing was not little and very spastic, but always sweet.

Raise something with love and kindness and it will remain.

That little girl grew up faster than she thought. She is now a young woman. Countryfied, Rap singing, dreadie rocking, sweet 20 year old, that still holds true to her up-bringing. And still has a secret dream of racing cars. She’s grown into the lady that wants to collect berries and make paint, the one who loves to shoot a gun, dance in the soft grass, and lay under a blanket of stars.

A girl who can read your soul through your eyes, wont give up until she’s dead, wont be controlled, or defined. She is in constant motion, hoola-hooping, singing in the car, sitting on screened in porch, steady thinking. Her words may be undetectable but if you know her she doesn’t have to speak to be heard. The little girl isn’t so little anymore, but still remembers.

Memories keep her true and grounded to this here red clay. She will one day have her land where the horses run free, beside the goats and chickens. The dogs are their best friends and no one in their right mind would dare trespass. She’ll have a cow field and a four wheeler. A corn maze and a creek just seconds away. This is her home in the land of the free.