Well, I haven’t posted in three days for a few reasons. One of which is that, as many of you readers out there know, when you find a good book every free moment is spent reading it. And THE HELP is that book for me right now. I’m only on page 275 out of 444.
I don’t know much of anything about the American South other than my own romanticized images of magnolia trees, sultry humidity, gentlemanly manners, and the lessons in history books. I was born , raised, and still live in California.
This past December was my first time actually being there and I must say I loved it. It did not disappoint. All my romantic ideals were confirmed except for the sultry humidity, seeing as it was December and all.
For many reasons one of the highlights of the trip was a small, slight woman whose gold name tag read Miss Betty. She sang happy birthday to me at the breakfast table in a soft sweet voice as she served me coffee and grits. When she was finished singing, Miss Betty told me how beautiful I looked in my new blue scarf and lightly touched my blonde hair. I could have cried, she was so sweet.
THE HELP is a reminder of the other elements of the South, and what sadly may not be a former South from some things I see on the news. It’s not romantic at all. It’s shameful. But that’s a whole other topic.
Today, I was tired after working at my desk job and too tired to make myself go run along a gorgeous stretch of beach at sunset. Too tired to make dinner myself (for only myself), so I went to Trader Joes and bought some salad that someone else had made. Too tired to sit down and write something creative on my brand new, beautiful laptop because it wouldn’t be good enough.
Oh boo-hoo. Poor tired me.
I thought how pathetic I am for whining about all of that. My child is grown and I don’t have to take care of her. My significant other is not with me right now, so it is only me that needs attention. There is no other woman’s child to care for and raise, no burden of discrimination and fear living with me every day like a weight in my chest; no subjection to ridicule and degradation. I will remember that the next time I want to whine about my life.
The beautiful thing about THE HELP is the story of the women. Ms. Stockett wonderfully weaves us together in characters of all colors using the common threads of the heartbreak of losing children either through miscarriage or hideous accidents. We’re together in the joys of the laughter of a baby and the look of love from the man we adore. We’re together in wanting to change things that aren’t right and having the strength to do that even when we are dog friggin’ tired and our very hearts are breaking as we do it, but we do it anyway because it’s the right thing.
This isn’t a politically feminist post or anything other than an acknowledgement to the author of THE HELP, Kathryn Stockett. Because, really, who am I to talk about racial tension and women’s rights and fighting for change? I’ve got it easy thanks to people like my mother and a million other people I’ve never met. This is just my very small statement of gratitude about a very large topic.
I was in a shop the other day staring out the sunny doorway thinking about Aibileen and saw these two swallows flying around. They stopped for a moment on the door of a storage container, and then flew on to a telephone wire. They reminded me of the cover of the book. Funny how that happens…
It’s 10:03pm and I need to stop writing so I can start reading, but before I go I just need to say, Miss Betty? Wherever you are, thank you for the coffee and grits and most especially for the birthday breakfast song. It made a difference. I hope I get to see you again and tell you as much.