On September 21, 2007, Ben asked me to marry him on the balcony of Square Books in Oxford, Mississippi. It was our favorite date night spot in college at Ole Miss, and just a few days ago it was named the best bookstore in America. That’s a pretty high compliment, isn’t it? And it’s in Mississippi, the state that is most often the butt of the joke, and also the state that cured HIV. But I digress.
My friend Dorothy told me a few weeks ago that Square Books was tearing down the original balcony, the very balcony where Ben proposed, where Willie Morris and Larry Brown hung out, the place I daydream of on warm spring afternoons that make me miss college. For $5, I could have my own piece of Mississippi literary history, and I would also be helping Square Books raise the money for their new (structurally up-to-code) balcony. Normally, Ben would frame it with scrap wood from the shop but because it’s a worthless piece of priceless wood, I took it to Jay to professionally shadowbox it on linen. And I’m in love.
It hangs, appropriately and proudly, among family history.
(Just skip to the 2 minute mark on this video and you’ll know how it feels to miss Oxford.)