Tales from the Road #6: What Happens in Jackson, Stays in Jackson
By Francie Hunt, Executive Director | Nov. 21, 2022, 5:47 p.m.
We had to get up at 5 o’clock to start walking in time to arrive for the Madwomen event in Jackson that welcomed us. The morning was frigid, but gorgeous with luminous fog over flat farmland.
Laura and I started walking from the Joy O RV park outside of Brownsville to go 13 miles to Jackson. Bodhi didn’t want to walk again having walked 12 miles total the day before, so I carried him in my backpack.
This has already, in our first six days, been a physically and mentally challenging experience and I can only imagine that it will continue to be even more difficult. As a flat-footed person, my feet on our sixth day felt like they were on fire with red bumps showing up in the arches of my feet. Thank Goddexx I trained beforehand.
The day had been hot and I was on my last literal toenail when we got to Jackson. When we arrived, we were greeted by 30+ supporters that were associated with Madwomen. Madwomen is a cleverly-named group of Democratic women in Madison County that Debbie Swacker pulled together for us. They held a greeting event at Baker Brothers Barbecue, which is a gay-owned restaurant. It was incredibly encouraging to arrive and be given a spirited welcome.
It was exciting to meet so many progressive people here and connect with other like-minded people. We had great conversations about the importance of organizing with young people and how Planned Parenthood can help support organizing efforts in this area.
This walk would not have been possible without the plethora of generous people who stepped up to support Laura and me. At this speaking event, I let folks know that we were in need of a driver the next day and Erin Garcia Hernandez stepped up to help. She is an academic and grew up in a family with sisters and a mom who helped instill an understanding that personal reproductive decisions must be left up to the pregnant person.
Afterwards, Laura and I headed to Chip and Ambre Scott’s house. Ambre is especially gifted in caring for and entertaining guests. I was so sore when we arrived and my feet were covered in heat bumps. She set us up so we could switch between the heat of their hot tub and the cool of their swimming pool. The sparkling of the pool and the movement of the trees made me so appreciative of being in this healing space. I was so glad to have this as a place for a rest day because if we had not stopped at this time on our journey, my body would’ve forced us to.
I might describe the vibe like something out of Playboy, if Hugh Hefner had been an irreverent feminist, progressive activist and hiker-centered. The room I stayed in was lush green with palm tree wallpaper and a neon pink sign reading “Bougie Wonderland”. My bedside table was laden with foot cream and tiger balm. Her downstairs was a hidden speakeasy, with fantastic art like this:
Let’s just say: what happens in Jackson, stays in Jackson.
All around the house are paintings of amazing movement leaders like Gloria Steinem and autographed pictures by Rosa Parks and Stephen Colbert. Even Bodhi (my yorkipoo that crossed the state for abortion rights) had a wonderful time here with his new dog friends.
This could not be a write-up about our visit to Jackson and our lovely hosts if I don’t tell you about the haircut that sparked a thousand selfies.
Laura Button sporting her new haircut inspired by Ambre Scott
Upon our arrival, the effervescent Ambre suggests gently to Laura that she get a haircut. Without missing a beat, Laura agrees, fully trusting Ambre’s intuition for beauty. Laura sits poolside and gets a life-changing makeover by Chip, who in another iteration of his life is an artist and hair stylist. He is currently a neurosurgeon. The way I figure it, Laura’s cut was probably worth about $10K without insurance. We should all be so lucky to get our hair cut by a brain surgeon. So for the next few days and weeks, Laura kept snapping photos of her new look.
I’m beginning to think that perhaps the science behind a pilgrimage is that one becomes so exhausted and worn down that one can finally only focus on what matters most. I am sleeping deeply through the night, without any anxiety or fear about the world left around us.