Northern Mississippi in summer is a jewel, and I wouldn’t have been able to see the constant magic-hour that film industry location scouts see in the state if I hadn’t driven with my husband and son for ten steamy hours from Eastern Tennessee this July. I wouldn’t have seen the way that charcoal clouds kissed yellow green corn stalks; they way that blood red earth met midnight blue sky. I wouldn’t have seen the dramatic double rainbow that came after one of those distinctly summertime Southern pop up thunderstorms, gone before it started.
We were driving my husband to Mississippi to work on a film. A major motion picture, with a healthy budget and healthy stars in place. We had just moved back to East Tennessee with our five year old son from eighteen months in Southeastern Alaska, and the flip of the switch difference between chilly green June in Alaska (snow still on the tip-top of mountain peaks) and steamy jungle July in the South had left us breathless. The trip was arduous, and our funds were limited from being bled almost dry from our almost 4,000 move back. We had just the one vehicle and the production company wouldn’t pay for travel time or the means to get to the tiny town the shoot was occurring in, so we had decided to make a small vacation out of the trek deeper South.
So the fight that occurred was a build up of a month of tumultuous shift. . The double rainbow that we all viewed on the way to the hotel, our mouths open in awe, would usher in twenty four hours of grumbling, of disappointments, of hotel rooms so filthy (bloodstained, even) that hearts were broken when we had to tell our five year old that we had to sleep in the crooked, rotten beds or in the car. That we had to drive the long hot drive and we had to take Daddy to work way down here for a while and we had to drive the ten hour drive ourselves the next day. And as all of his parent’s frustrations gathered up in storm in his little five year old face and body, the meltdown that ensued was brief and fiery and everyone cried when it was finished.
The details of the fight are blurry now, because it wasn’t physical but vocal. My son’s voice was the only one that was elevated. We tried to be level parents, even in the midst of relative turmoil. Because it wasn’t a fight between three parties but a fight against circumstance, illustrated in a child’s brutally honest stamping foot. We drove around trying to find a cleaner hotel. One with towels. One that didn’t reek of sweat and curry. One that didn’t have blood stains on the box springs. But there simply wasn’t another that we could afford. The tiny town was choked with film business and we would be reaping those rewards, but not yet. At that moment we had around $200.00 to last five days, and some of that had to go to hotel expenses. It was a plight that in the grand big world of plights wasn’t even a blip, but it was our blip, our fight, filmed Technicolor with a backdrop of emerald green and charcoal grey, a ground of blood red mud, a sky painted with Kodachrome rainbow.