Starting to feel at home in Mississippi

Published 11:21 am Monday, June 29, 2015

For a girl who has lived in Alabama her whole life, moving to Mississippi has been a bit of a culture shock. The two sister states are more different than you might imagine.

Over the past three weeks I’ve learned about aldermen, the American Queen Steamboat, Mississippi State University Extension Services, Chancery Courts and Justice Courts. I’ve inspected my bedroom window multiple times because I am certain there must be a crack or it’s not latched tight enough because the sheer sound of insects screeching at night is louder than I’ve ever heard before.

But moving to Vicksburg, specifically, has taught me most of all about pageants. I did one story last summer, when I was still in school, about the Miss Alabama pageant, but I didn’t even attend the show. I’ve never been involved in a pageant like I was last week at the Miss Mississippi pageant.

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Rehearsals, crownings, parades, autograph signings, preliminaries, meal times and dressing rooms, you name it I was there.

Numerous hours were spent roaming the halls of the Vicksburg Convention Center to observe a practice, track down people I needed to talk to about their involvement or witness the contestants’ parents move all the girls’ pageant gear into the dressing room. It was really wasn’t hard at all; everyone was available, generous and more than willing to talk.

Even though I did get a stern talking to for parking in someone’s parking spot on one of the preliminary nights, and I got an email from a reader about my abysmal apostrophe skills, I’d say the week was a success.

My attitude about pageants has gone back and forth, as my attitudes often do, but that’s not what’s important. What’s important is that this city comes together to volunteer their time and support 30 hard working girls. It’s an impressive feat, and I’m proud I got to watch it unfold before my eyes.

It brought me closer to two of my coworkers who sat with me for four consecutive nights as we bonded over the competition. It was just fun meeting lovely people and watching an extraordinary show. I quickly became invested.

I did nearly nothing compared to all the work the contestants put into the last week, but I feel like I’ve been through it from the early mornings and the late nights. It’s bittersweet to see it all end, and it’s back to the real world for me.

Although, I get the feeling I’m not sure what the real world entails being that a third of my time here has been all pageant, all the time. Whatever the case, I’m easing into my new environment nicely. This Alabama girl is starting to feel at home in Mississippi.