Wednesday, January 21, 2009


I’ve just been asked “Where IS Towandaland, exactly?” Since it’s not of my own creation, I’ll just set my own marker.

It’s that exact spot in the old blacktopped parking lot of Piggly Wiggly where Evelyn Couch repeatedly rammed her old brown Ford land-yacht into the bright red VW whose impudent young blonde driver and her equally-sassy, smug friend had stolen her parking spot and flipped, "Face it, Lady---this is what happens when you're younger and faster!" back over their jaunty shoulders as they walked away laughing.

It's where the phrase "This is what happens when you're older and have more insurance," was born, the place on the map in which anyone, male or female, young or old, decides ENOUGH.

It’s where you take a stand and actually STAND there and stand UP for something, to right it or redress it or comfort or even AVENGE if the occasion merits.

It’s the place in all of us that we’d like to live IN and live UP TO, where we’re the best of ourselves and the person we’d like to be remembered as. It’s the place that we know we’re in when we dream of flying.

It’s that scene in The Magnificent Seven when the townsfolk all emerged with weapons and a firm resolve to take back their own---the moment in Dances With Wolves that the peaceful villagers rose up and took on those cruel marauders---the rally in Revenge of the Nerds when everyone rose from the bleachers and came down front to gather around Louis and Gilbert and Booger, to acknowledge that no matter who we are, we MATTER.

It's a place where you can just BE, and that's OK, and you can be more than yourself, as well. And words heard often are, "Nope. Not here. Not on MY watch."

Towandaland has lots of citizens---a brave woman on a Sixties bus, a pilot who wrestles an enormous plane to a safe landing in an icy river, a generation of young people who stand up and call out their own parents for their bigotry and hatreds. I like to think that a group of brave passengers on a flight called Ninety-Three felt the surge of Rightness and Courage and Honor they brought to their own place on the map.

Towanda was some sort of mythical avenging goddess, Hero of Idgie Threadgoode and others in Fried Green Tomatoes. And we Southern Girls all know who she is. And when the moment comes to stand UP or stand UP FOR or stand up and be counted---there will be a lot of them, and we'll know when they are---we'll whisper or say or shout "TOWANDA!" as we do our part to do the right thing.

Towandaland---you have to find it for yourself, and it’s all in the outlook. It's situated somewhere between Plumb Nigh and Mought Near, and you can always walk in the soft Summer rain.


Jon said...

Thanks, Rachel, for your delightful and right on the money explanation of Tawandaland as only a G.R.I.T.S.lady such as you could clue me in on. I get it and I got it now. Where have I been? Just in a brain fog lately I suppose. I've not been playing with a full deck of cards since my complicated eye surgery in Sept. Like you I have enjoyed the writings of Florence King and Fannie Flagg..not to mention Eudora Welty and Faulkner et al... among the bevy of other favorite Southern writers I have always enjoyed reading. Keep on keeping on with your charming posts written in Southern vernacular and before you know it you'll have a following and a fan club! You've got all the right stuff.

Jenn @ Juggling Life said...

I love this. Even a SoCal girl like me makes it to Tawandaland!