My life is bookmarked by the country. You see, I grew up in small Georgia town and now I find myself living in Idaho. (Look, when you tell people you live in Idaho, they automatically think small town, and compared to the New Yorks’ and Los Angeles’ of the world, it is small town.)
There is a childhood I spent in Southern California, but otherwise, I’ve always been a country girl at heart. John Cougar Mellencamp sang my theme songs, blue jeans and a t-shirt were my comfy clothes, and wide open spaces with drawn out sunsets have been my badge of courage.
And yet, in small town Georgia and now in Idaho, I am still big city.
My husband grew up in the country, real small town, population of about 600. He did 4-H, had every animal imaginable growing up, and can drive a tractor. But he is not what you’d look at and call country. He loves computers, lives in a virtual age where technology and the way of the future reign supreme. And he’s allergic to most things that grow wild in the country.
So while some ‘country’ tags might come from growing up on a farm, perhaps not all country comes from a zip code. I know I breathe easier still when I see a vast plain before me broken up with a lazy winding river and slow moving clouds. I still believe in John Cougar Mellencamp, I say ‘howdy’ when I meet someone, I refer to a group of people as y’all, and I still love my jeans and t-shirts.
Perhaps country means home, but there is a part of me that isn’t quite so country, because of this insatiable hunger that desires to roam the world.
Maybe it was living between two coasts that made me start to yearn for what was in between. I was eleven when I could no longer deny the gypsy spirit that itched at my skin. I wanted to go places, see things. I talked my parents into letting me go see a great grandma in Idaho that summer. The following summer, I handed over my babysitting money so I could go spend the summer in Georgia with my grandparents. I don’t think I stopped traveling since then. I have been many places, more than some, and not as many as others.
I’ve been to the Philippines for a month on one of the most moving and amazing experiences of my life. And yet our family spring vacations spent in Palm Springs California, staring up at the San Jacinto Mountains, etched a mirage of wonder on my damn soul.
Lately however, I’ve been thinking a lot about red clay roads, a southern twang, fried chicken and “bolt” (boiled) peanuts. I never liked the things, but still like how southern they are. I’ve been thinking that the time is coming one day to head back to the place I was born, if it’s only for a summer, just one season, I am feeling drawn to go and write about those southern lights that have been beckoning me back to my roots; a dotted landing strip of my journeying soul. The next great adventure.
Or maybe I should crank up a little music with a twang and swirl some ice tea, just to hear the ice clink against the glass.