Photo: Cindy Funk, Flickr Creative CommonsI know that I sometimes sound like I hate where I live, and it's true that at times I do actually hate it. There are a lot of drawbacks to living in such a rural area. There's very little access to quality cultural, entertainment, and educational opportunities. The nearest movie theater is more than 40 miles away. The local restaurants are lousy unless you want fried chicken. The barbecue places are even slightly subpar (by barbecue joint standards, anyway). When Gandhi gets older, there'll be plenty of athletic opportunities for him through the local recreation department, but if I wanted to get him lessons for tennis, I'd have to drive hours each weekend to get him lessons with a real teaching pro. Same goes for music. Forget private lessons if he shows any real talent in that area. Every year, the county's best and brightest (along with those from the neighboring counties) leaves for college and most never come back. The ignorant and the stupid linger and breed.
Despite that, I don't really hate where I live. Honestly, after two years I'd probably be anxious to leave behind any home I ever made. That's been my life trend anyway. The truth is this is where I grew up. This town and the surrounding area are a part of who I am. I guess that means I'm at least partially composed of gnats, mosquitoes, yellow flies, and rednecks, but it also means I'm partially made up of live oaks older than the United States, long leaf pine savannas, and old homesteads built off the ground to avoid the the swamps when heavy rains temporarily allow them to reclaim their historic territory. Oh, and one of the benefits of living in a place that was only tangentially affected by the Industrial Revolution is that the local watershed is so clean that the EPA doesn't care how much fish you eat out of our rivers and streams.
If I ever get around to writing the novel or screenplay that I know I'm too lazy and unmotivated to ever write, it will be set here. I've even got the general outline written out. The town would go by another name and all of the warts and moles would be there in the story, dark and sprouting strangely thick hairs, but it would be clear that deep down I really do love this place. In some strange way, I'm actually proud of where I live. I don't want to be here now, but I want to be from here.