simple life

Running a university campus isn’t an easy job (in case readers didn’t know what I do) and after three after work events and teaching a night class on my feet for three hours, I stumbled into our house, plopped in the chair, propped my feet, and honestly didn’t think I could walk to my bed and fall in it.

Contrary to one of my favorite songs by the great Lynyrd Skynyrd, I am a simple man but not in a simple life, and seeing a car with a Lowndes County, Georgia tag, eleven hours away from home this week in this micropolitan community where I live, took me back to a different time that I often miss.

The young couple pulled to a stop light in a very busy part of the city, I pushed the button for the passenger’s side window to let down, and I signaled the young guy to let down his window. He did and I asked if they were from Lowndes County. The young girl leaned and in that angelic Southern accent I don’t get to hear very often said, “I’m from Valdosta.” I told them I was from down there, too, but before I could make a connection, establish kin, or find out who her people were, the light turned green and I waved goodbye.

It made me feel good to have such an experience, and I had hoped we might meet at another stop light. I wondered if they had family or friends here and if I might know them. In my five years in Western Tennessee, that’s only happened once before and it was an employee of a company in Southern Georgia, but he wasn’t from there. He just worked for that company and had their vehicle with the Lowndes County tag.

When I posted my experience on Facebook the next morning, a fellow I know here, it turned out, had relatives in Lowndes and Brooks counties who I knew of, but didn’t know them personally. It is a small world.

When I was a teenager and up to no good, I didn’t like that connectivity of a simple life. I didn’t want my mom and dad to get the calls they periodically got from people who’d seen me in some escapades, but when I’m driving on our four lane bypass through the city here, I rarely see someone I know, let alone a hand wave, or the old Hahira pointer finger wave I used to see when meeting a passing car around Hahira. It was one of those moments when you just knew all was well in the world.

Today, we lock ourselves into cars, our homes, and are protected every moment of our lives and we are distrusting of strangers who wave, or a signal for us to roll down our windows. Give me a simple life any day of the week over a busy one. Give me three television channels and an outside antenna that needs adjusting when it’s windy to make a connection over two hundred channels of cable nonsense any day. Give me a home cooked meal with family around the table over evening events and fast food.

The simple life will always be the better life.

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Niles Reddick
Niles Reddick grew up in Hahira, Georgia. He is the author of the Pulitzer nominated novel Drifting too far from the Shore, a collection Road Kill Art and Other Oddities, and a novella Lead Me Home. His work has been featured in over a hundred literary magazines all over the world including Drunk Monkeys, Spelk, The Arkansas Review: a Journal of Delta Studies, The Dead Mule School of Southern Literature, Slice of Life, Transpositions, Faircloth Review, just to name a few. His new collection of stories, The Last Word, is forthcoming in 2018. Currently, he is a professor and vice provost at the University of Memphis, Lambuth. He and his wife Michelle live in Jackson, Tennessee, with their children Audrey and Nicholas. His website is www.nilesreddick.com.

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