When I was a slightly shorter girl with much less than a baker’s dozen of years tallied on my bedroom door, I used to welcome the beginning of Spring with a new Easter dress and hat worn Minnie Pearl style.
For those who were born above the Mason-Dixon Line (and in Florida), Minnie Pearl was the lifeblood of Hee Haw, a deep-fried version of Saturday Night Live meets Salute Your Shorts for adults and children without access to cable. She was the original gangsta who proudly kept the price tag of her hat on display and delivered the signature line, “How-w-w-w-DEE-E-E-E! I’m jes’ so proud to be here!” For a time, I liked to mimic her every Sunday in March and April.
As the first in a long line of female comedians who unknowingly encouraged me to fly my freak flag, Ms. Pearl came to mind this week while heralding the arrival of my 28th Spring. Only this time, instead of donning a wide-brimmed hat of fake flowers that cost less than $2, I listened to a poem about subtlety and went to an experimental math rock concert. This will make sense. I promise.
Months ago, when life felt like it was in the midst of a premature and seemingly perpetual Winter, I found solace in a poem by Tanya Davis called “How To Be Alone,” which I posted on this blog. Hibernation is necessary sometimes for healing, and Davis beautifully touches on this idea in her video. I heeded the advice and closed myself for renovations. I spent a lot of time alone and liked it. Mostly.
But just this week, I came across yet another poem by Davis that will serve as the gospel of my Spring, a season that aptly shares its name with a verb that means “to be released from a constrained position, to take an upward course, or to come into being and life.” The piece is titled “Subtlety” and in her spoken word performance, Davis talks about how the art of understatement and hesitation will never be her specialty, even though some say she should try it. Like Ms. Pearl, she keeps her price tag on and says, “I want people to know me/That means the whole me/The true soul in me/All the many parts in me.” She will always be the one who says too much, but isn’t that so much better than not enough?
After watching Davis’s video, I joined a friend for a Marnie Stern concert in a basement bar filled with crusty punks and smoke and the kind of volume that moves through your veins and makes even the hair on your neck stand at attention. Although the scene was not entirely mine and the lyrics are still a mystery, there was something just so very right about being in the midst of all that thrashing. During one of the songs, my friend leaned over and said, “Some call this noise, but at least it’s noise. They’re not afraid to say something.”
I couldn’t have planned a better way to begin this season. How-w-w-w-DEE-E-E-E, Spring! I’m jes’ so proud (and fortunate) to be here. Here comes the sun.