return to the south

words inspire words. feelings inspire words. moments inspire words. places, people, adventures, they all inspire words. they do not come from nowhere.

i decided long ago, perhaps when I first truly stepped outside all that I knew at age sixteen, that I have no real answer to the question “where are you from?”. I know where home is-home is Madison, home was Bass Lake, home was Cottey, home is where my heart is and was, within the people I care about. But people ask “where are you from” and I struggle to answer it mostly because to me that question is asking how did you get to where you are right now. Let me explain: I went to church with my aunt this past Sunday and her pastor asked me where I am from. I hesitated. “I go to school in North Carolina but I am from Wisconsin.” I replied. All he heard was Wisconsin and he made an offhanded joke about how that was a long way to come. But no…I wanted to correct him, because I wouldn’t have been in that moment if I hadn’t chosen to let Salem become part of who I am

Anyways, I am getting off track. The point of all of this is that I decided when I realized I don’t really know the place that I am from that I needed to rediscover the South. It’s one of the reasons I chose Salem and it is one of the reasons I am here right now in South Carolina, visiting my aunt. I have to rediscover–or perhaps discover since I was only 5 when we left–these people and their place.

So after going to the beach, the farmer’s market, the candy store, the city market, eating lots, going to the Aiken Rhett house, to Middleton Place, to Drayton Hall and drowning in the intriguing but blood and terror filled history that this city is, have I come any closer to discovering and understanding this place?

No. Instead simply beginning to understand, that just because you were born somewhere doesn’t make that place as large a part of you as you thought it should be.


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