Tuesday, December 06, 2005

Going back to where you've been...

I've been thinking deeply about a program I just watched on PBS, The Appalachians. The vast places I have been in the last 16 years doesn't amaze me as much as the fact that I came back. My teenage life in Martin County, KY was pretty hellish. The mountains weren't beautiful to me, they were ugly, grey, strip mined prison walls in winter, and, it always seemed to be winter. We heated with a coal burning stove; I am allergic to smoke. Thus, I was perpetually sick, either with colds or upper respiratory infections. The smell of coal and wood smoke still make me nauseous. We lived 10 miles away from school, and the road to Inez was a curvy mess. So, I got carsick twice a day, to and back from school. The people around me not only didn't care about who I was, they resented who I was. They didn't care about the outside world, and there was nothing that could do or say to convince me what there was to give a damn about there. As soon as I could, I got out.

And I proceeded to almost get a college education ( I am a 1 1/2 year shy of a degree), and, get married to a man from a vastly different region from my experience(Connecticut). Then, I traveled. I was in Savannah, GA, long enough to grow to love, and still long for, the live oaks and and beautiful southern accents ( so much more elegant than my Appalachian guttural, as I heard it.). We moved cross country by train, and I grew to love Portland, OR and its blissful progressiveness. We then moved to Jackson, WY, and I saw how much one could be swallowed by the mere revelation that is the Teton mountain range. Finally we ended up in Key West, where I grew to love the freethinking lifestyle, and the Conch people, who will truly give you the very shirt on their backs in times of trouble. I ended back in Lexington, KY, after my husbands death, and thought it was punishment to be back in my home state. I grew used to Lex, it was a college town with all the arts and amenities I liked. But I also grew stale, and reckless from the stagnation. Then, came Daniel.

Daniel has also lived all over the country, and also married outside his home base. He ended up back home. The day he invited me to move in with him, to Pikeville, I cried. I tried my best to get him to Lexington, but I now know it wasn't meant to be. The Goddess has a plan, and it was Her plan to put me back here. Back amongst the demons I thought were still here. I was so very wrong. Pikeville has blossomed, it isn't the same place I remember from high school trips here. I was scared because I thought that the goblins of my youth were still here. All I had ever felt here before was oppression, impotence, and hopelessness. I have come to realize, tonight, after watching The Appalachians, is:
* I am my own woman, not helpless. I control what I think and feel. I feel empowered now that I am back here living on my own terms. I will make this place into what I chose. I am a witch, an artist, a swinger, and liberal. I will mold this place to fit me, not the other way around.
* This program shocked me into realizing the richness of culture that was here to begin with. The Scot-Irish that settled here, and from which Daniel and I both sprung from, also made their own life here, by their own rules. They either brought, or created anew, their own art. It humbled me that these very brave, independent people sought this area out as a spiritual and cultural haven for them and their offspring. I feel that, in so many ways, I have disgraced that heritage. I can live my life by my principles, as they did, and respect their sacrifice.

So, I have had my eyes opened once again. I intend to concentrate on learning the mountain arts the best I can, to the best of my ability, to do my part to honor my ancestors with the skill I have, that came from them all along.


Anonymous said...

Tab - this is beautiful. I understand your view, and admire you for speaking it so eloquently. I've had trouble getting out of these mountains, they always draw me back. I don't know if I'll ever be happy anywhere else.