Monday, December 06, 2004


The morning is misty and wet, raining off and on. There was a fog laying on the creek but the mountain above it was clear. These aren’t the Smoky Mountains, and I don’t think they are the Blue Ridge proper either although that might be it. I grew up not far from here, in the Coalfields. Still to this day I find the smell of burning coal tremendously comforting.

I always loved my mountains and my home, and yet a week after I graduated from high school I was GONE, out of there, hasta la vista baby. My parents were good people and I had a good childhood but my teen years were strained beyond measure. My parents were so into appearances and were so prominent, or so I thought, in the community that I felt like I could never be me, who I was and am, but there I would always be my parents’ daughter.

I never went all the way back there to live although I might have. I’ve always wondered if I could ever have been me there, or would I always have been my parents’ daughter, or is there some mixture eventually available to you, where people know and accept who you are while also knowing and accepting the people you came from.

In thinking about that I realized just how short-lived any prominence, any social standing, is. My dad was mayor and was on city council for years, always went and visited the town manager even after dad and new wife moved. Yet none of the council came to his funeral. I noted that. My mother is still alive in some sense of that word but in such a fog that no one can see her and the only question that I get from the occasional home-town-ite is, “Is your Mother still alive? Your father died, didn’t he?”

They are gone, those personas they had that I had so much trouble with. I loved them, admired them, emulated them in some things – no, please change all those verbs to present tense – I love them, admire them, emulate them in the worthy things and attempt to avoid some of what I see as their mistakes. The people they were, not the personas they tried so hard to sell to the world.

My own children, from the time they were born, I’ve always viewed as their own people, not little reflections of me. Even, maybe even especially, the one who looks so like me that she cannot go anywhere that someone doesn’t make that exclamation.

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