Jean Ryan on The Hum of Staying Alive
“Alabama for Beginners,” Jean Ryan’s featured essay in a recent issue of bioStories caught my attention; as the editor describes it, “a love letter to her new home and the unexpected welcome she has found there.”
Ryan moved from San Francisco to Lilian, Alabama where she hopes her “modest savings will last longer” and she and her wife will “unearth the gay community—there must be one, some brave little enclave waiting for reinforcements.” But then, “On deeper reflection,” she continues, “maybe there is no enclave here, no separate community at all. Maybe these pockets are going the way of gay bars, no longer needed in this age of sexual fluidity, borders and labels all slipping away—now there’s a happy thought.” (I’m hoping those happy thoughts with you!)
As I age, I also consider other places to resettle, and for anyone who is contemplating a move, this essay of discovering a new place – especially one so different in so many ways – was a nudge of encouragement. Learning the people, the places, the flora and the fauna, and, most essentially, the rediscovery of your own being amid a new environment:
“Each morning my wife and I have coffee on the back patio and watch the sun come up through the pines. As we often come out before dawn, I sweep a flashlight beam across the cement, making sure we don’t step on something that, like us, is not looking for any trouble, just a place to call home. The other day I saw a black wasp fly out of a small hole in the frame of my deck chair, reminding me of the swallows next door that made a nest in the open sewer pipe of the home under construction. You can find at least three wide-eyed frogs perched inside my hose reel box any time you lift the lid. Not for a minute does even the smallest crevice go to waste. There is panic in the air, the hum of a million creatures trying to stay alive.”
bioStories is an online pubiication of nonfiction that publishes a new feature every week then collects them into two semiannual issues.