May You Live in an Interesting Place...
We may not always have clean water, but you sure as hell won't get bored here.
Welcome to Rooted Magazine, a magazine that explores what it means to make a home in a complicated place: Mississippi. Thank you to all the new subscribers! And a special thank you to paid subscribers. Your support allows us to pay our contributors and keep our publication paywall-free.
I write to you this week from one of the more “Mississippi” places in our state: a makeshift desk inside a vintage camper nicknamed "the UFO” on a farm in Cleveland.
Once the Jacks family’s horse farm, JX Farms is now an artist residency, welcoming artists of all disciplines to create and find inspiration in the natural beauty of the Delta. I’m here for nine days to work on a writing project about—you guessed it—what it means to live in Mississippi.
In recent years, my grandfather has taken to repeating a phrase which he says is a Chinese curse: “May you live in interesting times.” And boy, are the times interesting. But to me, the word “curse” never feels quite right. Given the choice, I would choose to live in an interesting world that captured my attention, swallowed me up, and made me feel the full spectrum of human emotion.
And yet, sometimes I just want “uninteresting” drinking water. I want “uninteresting” roads, with maybe—if it’s not asking for too much—some “uninteresting” sidewalks thrown in.
Lately, I’ve taken to tweaking the not-curse to: “May you live in an interesting place.”
Living in Mississippi is nothing if not interesting. In the past year, the state’s only abortion clinic closed, my city was without clean drinking water for months, and hospitals around the state shuttered at alarming rates.
But this morning, I woke up to the sound of Delta rain pinging the roof of my airstream. I made a pot of coffee and said good morning to the twenty-five year old horse named Catalina who lives here on the farm. I walked around the outskirts of the property and took photos of dried goldenrod stalks and rain droplets glistening on the tree limbs and breathed in the cool, fresh air. In those moments, I felt lucky to live in this state, lucky to feel a deep, abiding connection to my adopted home.
And yet, sometimes I just want “uninteresting” drinking water. I want “uninteresting” roads with maybe—if it’s not asking for too much—some “uninteresting” sidewalks thrown in.
I started Rooted Magazine because I want to hear from Mississippians of all ages, races, and geographic locations about why they’ve stayed here, or why they’ve left, or why they chose to move here rather than Portland or Austin or Denver. I want to talk about the real reasons educated young people are moving away from the state in droves. I want to know what you love about home, and what makes you howl with rage.
On January 4, we’ll launch our first issue of the Rooted Questionnaire. More contributor questionnaires, poetry, and original writing will follow. Be sure to subscribe now in order to get the first issue delivered to your inbox. And while you’re at it, why don’t you share this with an out-of-state friend who’s always wondered why the hell you live in Mississippi.
In the meantime, I’d like to know. Do you think it’s a curse to live in an interesting place?
Want to take the Rooted Questionnaire? Submit original poetry, essays, or fiction? Email wearerootedmag [at] gmail [dot] com.