In true Flannery O’Connor fashion, the road to her family home is not a straight one. I can’t help but think she gets a good laugh each time one of her devotees ends up at the non-descript Milledgeville Mall, which is where GPS will take you if put in the address for Andalusia.
We had to do a little backtracking until we noticed a sign directing us to a small driveway cut into the side of Highway 441. As we slowly drove down the wooded, dirt road to the house, I could almost swear I saw the Misfit peeking out from behind a tree.
Though Flannery died in 1963, walking into to her home feels like she might have just run down the road with her mother, Regina, to the grocery store. The house is far from a shiny, bright tourist attraction. It’s a little gritty, a little sad, but ultimately as real as Flannery herself.
The front door opens to a small staircase with a picture of the Sacred Heart of Jesus prominently hung on the wall. Just to the left is Flannery’s makeshift bedroom. It was originally the home’s parlor but was made in to a bedroom when advancing lupus made it impossible for her to manage getting upstairs.
The poignancy of seeing Flannery’s crutches propped up next to her writing desk is impossible to escape. Her physical sufferings and limitations forced her back to the small Southern roots that she had so hoped to escape. But, perhaps, it was that very thing that allowed her to focus solely on her vocation.
The room is sparse and ascetic–bringing to mind a nun’s cell. In the middle of the room, a typewriter sits at the ready on a little desk pushed up to the back of an armoire. Flannery was obviously not into feng shui, but she was a writer who knew herself well and kept visual distractions to minimum. (note to self: a beautiful view does not necessarily aid writing).
It is amazing to think that from this little room, Flannery honed her craft to create some of the greatest fiction of the 20th century. If you are interested in visiting Andalusia, or learning more about Flannery, I highly recommend visiting Flannery O’Connor-Andalusia Foundation.