"It took my experience in the North to teach me that I am first and last a southerner, as I was raised to be."
I was born August 27, 1960, in Saint Joseph’s Hospital, a diocesan Catholic institution in Aurora, Illinois, where my mother was employed as a nurse’s aide and therefore acquainted with most of the personnel, including a couple of dozen priests and nuns. This fact is noteworthy because it indicates that I was fussed and prayed over more ferociously even than most newborns, which is to say, quite a bit. My mother was a staunch hard-shell black Baptist, but I’m sure she didn’t mind all the extra spiritual armor. She had suffered a miscarriage before my birth, was worried about having children at all, and dearly wanted this child—me—to survive.