Welcome back for another post from the Monday Inspirations series. Today’s post is by Diana. You can check out previous posts here.
I’ve always been a bit of a bookworm. Even when I was very small, I liked to read and to be read to. Books were in abundant supply in my house, as my older siblings, mother, and father enjoyed reading and talking about reading in their free-time.
I’ve also always liked museums and historical places, especially when they’re related to books. There’s something thrilling about being in a space where history has happened, about seeing a place or an object that has Significance.
We drove by the old courthouse where Tom Robinson’s trial is annually reenacted from time to time when I was a kid. My mother grew up in the area, in an even smaller town nearby. The last time I drove by that courthouse, I was leaving town after my grandmother’s funeral in 2012.
Monroeville, AL is about the same size as the town I grew up in, but somehow it has always seemed even smaller, even sleepier. Still, the town held a peculiar fascination for me. It was home not just to my mother’s family, but to Harper Lee and Truman Capote as well.
I’ve read To Kill a Mockingbird (1960) at least half a dozen times over the past few years, and probably half a dozen more in the years before that. In it are the germs of many things I’d eventually go on to study—Southern Gothicism, young adult literature, racial and class politics in the South, and mental illness.
I’ve gone from wishing that Atticus Finch was my father to hoping for a father-figure like that for my own child. I’ve seen the injustices that still exist in the small town South. And I understand Scout, understand her in ways that are particular to the Southern sleepy towns in which we grew up.
I remember stories that would mimic those told of Boo Radley, tales of town characters. I remember the way that adults were hesitant to speak about such things in front of children. I remember the whispers, and I remember both of my grandmothers telling me family history that my parents would probably rather I not have been told.
I remember climbing trees, and I remember hanging out with my next door neighbors and knowing everyone in town by name–and everyone knowing me, as my father was a banker and my mother a teacher. And I remember racism, the way the town still seemed divided years after the Civil Rights Movement. I remember injustices, and I remember kindnesses. I remember the small town South.
Diana is a native Mississippian, a nerd, a bookworm, a feminist, a mother, a teacher, a worrier, and a social media junkie. She is the administrator of the blog Part Time Monster, and you can follow her on Twitter @parttimemonster or find her on Facebook at facebook.com/parttimemonster. She lives in New Orleans with her son, her husband, and one very energetic terrier.
By the way, make sure you check out my guest post about Dola over at Part Time Monster later today.