THOMASVILLE, Ga. (Dec. 7, 1997) For the past three weeks I have been wrapped up in the transition between CRST and Oil-Dri. The time has gone quickly and with the 12-16-hour days, I have had little time for reflection. It was only Friday night I did something for myself — I went to Walmart and bought some shaving cream and underwear.
Yesterday, after five hours at work, I drove toward Tallahassee and went to a Goodwill store, a large bookstore, and got groceries — to last me until I fly home on Friday.
What I observed is difficult to put into words. Mostly it is difficult because I am not accustomed to writing observations. But I will attempt something now.
On Georgia Highway 3, near Ochlocknee, is a huge clay mine. Across the street is the Oil-Dri plant which processes the clay into absorbents and cat litter. The reason I am here is to train these people to provide the transportation services needed to move products to market. This is something Oil-Dri was doing on their own, but in a changing economic environment they now chose to outsource the function.
People are very nice, and determined to preserve their way of life. What that means, I am not sure, but I detect that many in the area do not have a lot of money, and things like a person taking home a bag of rolls from the farewell luncheon, and statements about living in Cairo or Moultrie because a person cannot afford to live in Thomasville, are revealing.
Yesterday I took my clothes to a coin-operated laundromat where there is a wash, dry and fold service. The proprietress is a woman who will, for 75 cents a pound, wash, dry and fold clothes. There are two very young children who stay with her — they are young enough to be grandchildren. When I returned to pick up my clothes, there was a gathering of older females who were of an age to be daughters/mothers of the others. The proprietress indicated that Iowa was a long way from that coin-operated laundromat.
Saturday afternoon I drove south on 319 toward Tallahassee. As I entered Leon County, I remembered entering that county with my parents when I was seven or eight years old. I am not far from where my father spent time as a teenager. I liked the road with the trees reaching over the road surface — Spanish moss hanging from them — a cozy drive on a busy road leading to shops, and eventually, the airport from which I will fly home.
It was inside Walmart yesterday afternoon I was inspired to buy this paper and continue my journal from Georgia. The idea of writing in it as an escape and as creative endeavor seems inviting after 23 straight days of endless activity. I never know if I will write volumes or if this will be my solitary entry as Monday comes and I move back into a work mode — engaged in what must be done.
It is a place of solitary enjoyment — as usual, I know not when, if ever, I will return to read these writings… or if, like the writings I had stolen in France, they will just be gone forever — to be composted into some other matter. Now, it is rewarding to put the words to paper, and so, on what is turning into a retreat weekend, I am at this table writing.
It is in writing down thoughts I am able to move on to the next activity. It is like putting money into a repository where it is unseen and as such out of my attention — letting me be free to engage in new thoughts. I have left the curtain closed in my room. I can see it is light outside, and when I emerge, I will have a fresh view of what potential there is in my environment.
Now it is time to end this journal entry. I have come to this place in my day and the promise of my future calls me. I have used this morning — the three hours since I woke up — to bring focus to what I am doing. Now mental activity pulls me toward work. Indeed, that is the reason I am here in Georgia.
So now, I will close this page, this entry — go to the exercise room for an hour, then begin writing in other actions, the next phase of my career as an Americanist.
~ Lightly edited from my personal journal.
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