I was born and raised south of the Mason-Dixon line, but far enough north that I didn't realize until I went away to college that it was, indeed, the South. It never occurred to me why I saw so many confederate flags or why people in my town talked funny--some more than others. For some reason, in history class, both the North and South were "them" and "they," though I identified more with the Yankees 'cause they were the good guys in the Civil War. Sort of. I never paid much attention in history class.
But once I made that realization I clung to it, holding tight to my sense of place and where I come from even as I went Away north to college. Each time someone discovered yet another word I say different--five, nine, tour, theater--I pretended to be amused and slightly annoyed, while inside I filed away another piece of home. They say you can take the girl out of the country, but you can't take the country out of the girl. Well, it's true.
I come from a partly wooded hill up a long driveway set back on a dirt road, cradled by some of the oldest mountains in the country. And even as I travel to different states, different continents, I discover just how much that little speck of earth shaped me. It held me, and now I carry it inside everywhere I go. As I look to the empty future of countless possibilities I know that there is one place I can always return to and know that I'm home.