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Points of Inspiration: A Wedding Weekend in Oxford, MS

August 12, 2010

To understand the world, you must first understand a place like Mississippi.

-William Faulkner

My gracious hosts for the weekend, Liz and Hall Edwards, are renovating their new home. This was the light switch in my bedroom from the previous owner. Liz says she's having a really hard time parting with it. It's pretty obvious why.

People from Mississippi love this quote. It’s one of those truths (?) that despite the negative things we can say about our state, makes us appear endlessly enigmatic, other-worldly, not totally understood and just really f’ing special.

I also find that that quote really annoys other people – particularly other Southerners. Whatever, guys. Our state is fat and highly illiterate. At least give us some literary cred. We’ve earned it.

So, I’ve recently returned from Oxford, Mississippi where I attended one of my oldest and dearest friend’s wedding. Aside from discovering this cat. I found a lot of good food, caught up with friends I miss dearly, and drank and ate way too much.

I made it back to New York alive – barely – but here’s a brief account of how it went down.

When I got in on Friday afternoon, dinner was all planned thanks to my friend Ferriday Mansel McClatchy, with whom I have spent more time at countless debutante balls throughout the South than, I think, we’ve spent in actual everyday life – whether we were in those balls or not. As an ex-New Yorker and Vanity Fair alum, she’s since moved home to launch Fete et Cie, an event planning business. She’s no stranger to enjoying a party; and having recently finished up a Masters in Southern Studies at Ole Miss, I’d trust her any time for an authentically Southern and thoughtfully extraordinary get together.

Which in this case was dinner.

She didn’t disappoint by gathering up great friends and merriment, arriving in a chic jacquard get-up by up and coming Southern designers, Hunter Dixon. What can I say? The girl hasn’t lost her touch.

After dinner, I met up with the wedding party and my brother also took some time off from working on the set of “the Help” to come hang out with his big brother for the weekend.

We darkened the door of our old watering hole, “the Library.” It’s exactly as I remember from college. I ran into exactly the people I expected to see. And like clock-work, someone in my group fell down – not a floor you want to land on. I didn’t actually go to Ole Miss but I was there enough for some people to think I did.

Fun fact: “The Library” used to appear as “The Library” on credit card statements. Many parents never figured out why their kids were spending so much money at the school library.

Waking up Saturday, everyone was busy prepping for the wedding. Since I wasn’t actually in this wedding, I enlisted the help of my own private photographer and Oxford Visitor’s Bureau Extraordinaire, Mary Allyn Roulhac, and, um, Ellen to take me on an adventure. We packed up numerous bottles of water and empty milk bottles and set off to explore the environs – namely Brown Family Dairy and Faulkner’s home: Rowan Oak.

Before diving into the slideshow, it’s worth noting I wasn’t the first from New York to find my way to this unique dairy. The NY Times wrote an amazing article a few months ago heralding the success of the farm and dairy while, again, celebrating a rich literary heritage. (They also wrote a supremely satisfying pun-tastic headline – one which I find magical).

So, come along and see what Ellen, Mary Allyn and I got into…

That night, we danced into the wee hours. There really is nothing like a Southern wedding.

Morning came way too soon. Fortunately for me and anyone who visits Oxford, Chef John Currence exists. I was dying to eat at City Grocery on Friday night but they were closed for some reason. Instead, I got to experience Big Bad Breakfast. Woo-Lord – any place that has more than four types of gravies to choose from has my heart forever. It was so amazing that, upon completion of my anything-but-ordinary cheese grits and sausage, my friend Erica persuaded me to purchase a t-shirt that features a stick of butter on the front with a message that reads “Lard have mercy.”

Indeed. I wear that one to the gym.

On Sunday, I narrowly caught my flight from MEM > LGA and was safe in my apartment by that afternoon. But, I certainly want to thank Kati for giving me a reason to reacquaint myself with such an amazing town.

It’s been far too long.

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12 Comments leave one →
  1. Mom permalink
    August 12, 2010 4:58 PM

    Wish I had been there . . . Sounds great!

  2. moonbuggy2 permalink
    August 13, 2010 6:41 PM

    Our great men of letters have to immortalise their favourite places in some aphorism:

    “When a man is tired of London, he is tired of life; for there is in London all that life can afford”
    — Samuel Johnson

    “When good Americans die they go to Paris.”
    — Oscar Wilde

    What should we make of Hemingway’s ringing silence on the attractions of Illinois?

  3. Leighton permalink
    August 16, 2010 1:31 PM

    Ward,

    I recently discovered your blog and absolutely love it. You’re a great writer and quite funny! Too bad I didn’t learn of it earlier. I hope all is well with you!

    Best,
    Leighton

  4. August 23, 2010 2:32 PM

    I’m Annoyed.

  5. Ellen permalink
    August 24, 2010 5:04 PM

    Thank you for referring to me as “um, Ellen”. It always makes me feel special to have no identity or last name. Everyone else got quipy anecdotes describing them. Your trampoline jumping would not been near as fun if I were not there. Just keep it in mind.

  6. August 26, 2010 10:05 PM

    I guess the Library replaced the Warehouse, but that was a few years ago, so you wouldn’t remember it. Oxford and the state of Mississippi are a truly special places, and I fondly remember my time there. I always enjoy reading your posts. Great photos too.

  7. September 9, 2010 7:28 AM

    Love the quote, although I am not from your lovely neck of the woods. Enjoying my visit among your words!!! Have a wonder filled day.

  8. Jane Anna permalink
    December 2, 2010 4:59 PM

    Ward- I’ll take credit for this: “When I got in on Friday afternoon, dinner was all planned thanks to my friend Ferriday Mansel McClatchy, with whom I have spent more time at countless debutante balls throughout the South than, I think, we’ve spent in actual everyday life – whether we were in those balls or not.” haha!

    I believe your introduction to Ferriday occured at my Cotton Carnival happenings during summer 2000something. I don’t think I’ve had another date able to climb up Aunt Jennifer’s roof with a bag of Krystals in-hand as well as you did.
    Hey Ferriday. Hope the new business is going well!

  9. December 8, 2010 8:47 PM

    Just came across your blog through I web of links I couldn’t possibly retrace if not for my Internet history. (Drinking bourbon all evening hasn’t helped.) As a Mississippian, born and raised on the Coast, it’s refreshing to find myself looking and gentlemen’s lifestyle sites, if you’d like to call them that, and being rerouted back to the South by the end of it.

    Keep it up.

    Cheers,
    N.

  10. January 27, 2011 10:17 PM

    Hotty Toddy! I am a freshmen down at Ole Miss (from Washington DC) and it is truly God’s Country.

  11. Amy permalink
    February 18, 2011 10:24 AM

    do you have an address or directions to the brown family dairy? I’d like to vistit it.

    • February 18, 2011 10:30 AM

      Give the visitor’s bureau a ring at 662.232.2367 and I’m sure they’d more than happy to help. It’s a little hard to find.

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