The two weeks leading up to my departure for California, I’d been having a lot of trouble sleeping. I could get to sleep alright, but it had been really hard to stay asleep. I’d wake up throughout the night, heart pounding. I’d get up, get something to drink and try and get to sleep. I could usually manage a little more shut eye, before giving up for good and going outside with Remy for a walk. I kept thinking that once I hit the road the anxiety would dissipate–that I’d just leave any worry behind. Sadly, waking up in Birmingham at 6 in the morning, I realized I had not.
Luckily, being on this trip, there is always somewhere to go, always something to do and see. Which brings me to Day #2 of the road trip: my journey from Birmingham to Mobile.
I’d driven through Mobile once before, heading back from New Orleans to Columbia. I didn’t remember very much (in fact, the most memorable part of it was seeing Jefferson Davis’ house in Biloxi), but I had an intense desire to touch the Gulf Coast, to put my feet in the water, and smell the salty air. Have you ever heard that saying, “The cure for anything is salt water – sweat, tears, or the sea”? I think there is a lot of truth in that. There’s something that makes you feel so rooted and harmonious to be on the coast. On the other hand, looking at the grandness of the ocean, how can you not be humbled? Your problems are immediately diminished.
So, I found myself heading south from Birmingham to Mobile. About halfway into my drive, I realized I was coming up on Montgomery. I hadn’t planned to stop, but thought it would be a good chance to stretch and walk around and I’m so glad I did!
Montgomery is a city of juxtaposition. Take for example this monument to Jefferson Davis’ inauguration that stands outside the State House:
It’s right across the street from the church where Martin Luther King worked as a pastor:
I wonder if Jefferson Davis could have ever imagined that just across the street from where his inaugural parade marched as the band played “Dixie” there would be a church served by an African American pastor who would change the landscape of civil rights in America.
Just down the street from the Baptist church is the Civil Rights Memorial. There is a beautiful water installation in the front of the building. There are two parts of the installation. One is a stone waterfall bearing part of the Martin Luther King quote, “We will not be satisfied until justice rolls down like waters and righteousness like a mighty stream.”
The other part of the installation was a disk shaped fountain. Carved into the fountain in a circle were the dates of killings of African Americans by the Klan, Civil Rights activists by officers of the law, lynchings and so forth. Some of the names, like Emmett Till, I recognized. But so many others, I had never heard of before. I was so moved by this memorial. I hope it doesn’t seem trite to say so. Given the state of race relations in this country today (which I won’t use this blog as a forum for), I think this was an incredibly relevant place to visit. It gave me a lot to think about as I completed my drive down to the Gulf Coast.
Distance traveled: 277 miles
High: The Civil Rights Memorial in Montgomery
Low: Eating Thai takeout for dinner in my hotel room while watching E!