From the moment Michele B. and I started working on our current project we’d called it Hot Coffee, Mississippi as sort of a place holder, always intending to come up with something else. But when it came right down to it Hot Coffee, Mississippi was the only name that seemed to fit.
Hot Coffee, Mississippi is both a real place and a figurative one for me. The real Hot Coffee is in the Mississippi Delta about two hours from Biloxi. It is the place where both my mother’s parents were born, and my mother and her sisters spent much of their childhoods. I’ve been there. There isn’t much there there actually, mostly a stop light, a church, and a general store where you can buy anything from groceries to a treadmill. It is hard to comprehend how we get from this tiny rural place where agriculture is still pretty much the main industry to my world of tall buildings, eternal traffic, and constant motion in the space of three generations. Yet, still there is no doubt that this place is a large part of the person I became. This is the place where much of my family’s story began, and because of that it is part of me.
This brings me to the metaphorical Hot Coffee. I grew up with women who told stories, and many of those stories were set in Hot Coffee. I know these tales so well, that sometimes it’s hard to believe that I didn’t witness them firsthand. It took a long time for me to understand that what was being shared was more than an amusing anecdote. These women wanted me to hear them, and in hearing them I would know them. Understanding their stories has helped me understand who I am. Hot Coffee represents family in all its messiness. The good, the bad and the crazy. The people who may not always like you, but never fail to love you.