I took the picture above in the small town of San Pedro de Atacama. I’m now located in the small Mississippi town of Tupelo, and it’s hard to believe that I grew up in Los Angeles and have lived in various places, such as Mexico City, Buenos Aires, Cusco, and Arica, Chile.
Since I’ve arrived here I’ve experienced a series of obstacles, and have discussed some of them here.
Despite the fact that many people associate small towns with a drab, boring lifestyle, I’m determined not to allow this type of thinking to overwhelm me.
After living in so many places, I’ve realized that how much you enjoy things is up to you. Sure, I do experience racism at overt levels here at times, but the United States has been this way and it’s something we all need to speak up about.
It’s also true that Mississippi is roughly about 38% African-American and there’s a small number of other minorities here (such as myself!). I’ve mostly occupied myself with running, yoga, re-learning how to drive my stick shift, and pitching and applying to different writing jobs.
I keep reminding myself that throughout my time as a traveler, I found many small towns in South America to be quite exciting: San Pedro de Atacama (pictured above) is known for its scenic views and unique landscapes. Huaraz, Perú is known for its hiking and landscapes, and I had some of the best food of my life there.
I still disagree with many of the things I see every day in the Deep South, but I try to focus on the fact that Mississippi has an often overlooked literary history. It was also the place where I learned to find my voice as a writer and disassociate it with my status as a minority.
I have the right to write about things that aren’t always about social justice or the hardships I face. In fact, satire, writing about beauty, and pop culture are things that make me human.
If I’m meant to live in a great city—and I trust that it’s really where I belong—the process will get me there.