oooooh, this is a good one! and a question that i’m asked pretty regularly.
back when i was a fat, weird, teenage nerd pariah at Elliott County High School all my goals involved getting the hell out of here. i thought that i would magically find acceptance and happiness in the big city somewhere, anywhere. but here. and i did live outside Appalachia once before. i kinda’ ran away from some trouble i got into at Berea College and landed in a run-down trailer in the middle of the Midwest. obviously, it didn’t take. after a coupla’ years of punk rockin’, flat land debauchery, i came right back to the eKy. and it wasn’t until then that i realized how much i had missed it. and that my feeling out of place had nothing to do with this place, in particular.
there’s something about home that holds me here. it’s more than a connection to my family and friends, though that is an impossibly strong bond in my world. it’s a connection to the land itself, to the generations that came before me who lived and died on this land. and i fully realize that there would be more opportunity for me elsewhere, but it doesn’t matter. it wouldn’t be as satisfying, somehow.
a good friend of mine once accused me of nostalgia. i tried to explain that it isn’t nostalgic if you’re living it, breathing it, taking it in through every pore every day. love it or hate it, run away or stay…this region gets into your blood, down deep. it boils up when you least expect it. and suddenly you find yourself longing for the scent of honeysuckle along a gravel road or the feel of mist filtering down from the foothills.
i never know where life is going to take me exactly, so i try not to deny possibilities or make too many plans. i can’t say with utter certainty that i’ll never leave the Appalachian region again. but i can say that i don’t plan on it at this moment. the proper opportunity would have to be pretty incredible to tempt me away from the peace i’ve found here. instead, i’d like to work for Appalachia, work at making this place better. sure, it may require some sacrifice. but i feel obligated to give of myself the way this region has given to me. ideally, i’d like to stay right here and show the rest of the world what i have discovered and simultaneously always known.