Why I Need to go to Oxford, Mississippi

At some point through my first year at the University of Oregon I had a strange dream. For some reason, I felt compelled to take a trip to Missoula Montana. I knew no one in Missoula, knew of no particular reason to go to Missoula, and in fact had never even been to Montana. But I was seized with a strong urge to go. So I went. Come spring break of 1994 I packed lightly my Toyota pickup and set off toward the great unkown (to me). The long and short of it is that I did something challenging, by myself, that I'll have memories of for the rest of my life. I also took many quality pictures along the road, a few of which still grace our home. But back to Mississippi.

It's several years later, and I'm married and have two kids. But that wanderlust is back. I need to, have to go to
Oxford, Mississippi . I told my friend Kelly about this, and he said, "why Oxford?" This is understandable. My reply, "why not Oxford?" was met with proverbial Kelly-like glee. Why the hell not go to Oxford??? I mean it seems like an idyllic little southern town, does it not? It's the home of Ole Miss, the site of the double-decker bus festival, stomping grounds of one William Faulkner for heck's sake.

For now, Oxford Mississippi is like my Italy, my Paris, my Hollywood. It's an endpoint, a place on the map, a beginning. People want to go to those places, just to
be there. Not just to say they've been, but because that's the place. Now I could be dead wrong, and Oxford could be a hole. But just keep this in mind: I live in El Paso freakin' Texas. How bad could Oxford be?

What's more, like going from Eugene Oregon to Missoula Montana, the trip itself is an attraction. I've planned my route. Get this, from El Paso to Oxford, we'd roll through Pecos, Midland/Odessa, Abilene, Dallas, Ft. Worth, Texarkana, Little Rock, and Memphis. That's one helluva big slice of Americana. That's a few rolls of film, a couple bags of Cheetos, a case of Arizona iced tea of a trip. That's a lot of country I haven't seen yet. And that's a lot of road that aches to be trampled, spat upon and conquered. An added bonus: black and white stills of my daughter at sunset in a Memphis park, my son at dawn in downtown Dallas, my wife in a pretty sundress nearby Mississippi flower blooms, and me in front of
Rowan Oak. I need to go.


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