from... "the southern gentle man"– "I'm from the south... can i get the door for you?"
...That was the second thing I said to my wife on our first date.
It was February of 2020, we met at a Harlem café after talking on Hinge for a week, and I was fifteen minutes early to a date I'd postponed by an hour at the last minute. I thought I'd ruined my chances before the first sip of a latte. Fast forward two years– We’ve been married for nine months, and here I am writing this to you from a café in Dakar, Senegal, having quit my job to join her on her research year in France & West Africa. …And that’s the “TLDR” of a long story.
Yet, in a sense, everything I’ve experienced hinged on that single sentence; a revelation and a request, containing the breadth of my life.
“I’m from the South... Can I get the door for you?” illustrates the affective experience of being a White Southern dude who grew up in a small town outside of Atlanta, left Georgia to become a writer in New York City, had play productions in NYC’s downtown experimental theatre scene, taught English at a Harlem High School, went on a date with a beautiful Black woman, married her during a global pandemic, then quit my job to travel through France & Senegal in support of my wife’s academic career.
“I’m from the South... Can I get the door for you?” captures what it feels like when you’ve become a new husband and you’re crossing multiple cultures on three continents during a time when the world seems to have turned upside down. It describes the duality having internal conflict, while also finding a sense of meaning.
“I’m from the South... Can I get the door for you?” means living in worlds that are supposed to be at odds with each other, and then the discovering that they aren’t at odds at all. That’s what this newsletter is about.
In the words of one of my favorite literary theorists, Kenneth Burke, if
“We can see our everyday behaviors in terms of eternity" then ...
Finish reading this in THE SOUTHERN GENTLE MAN
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