Everything I love so much about growing up in Kentucky and continuing to call it home can be summed up in one word: Southern.
|The view from my parents' house|
I'm not talking about its geographic location (especially because some people tend to argue that it's not technically a southern state) and I'm not talking about its history (which also causes controversy over whether Kentucky should be considered Southern. to which I say, "Pshaw").
In my friend Alecia Whitaker's book, The Queen of Kentucky, the main character, Ricki Jo, is a girl who lives on a tobacco farm. (If you haven't read it, do. Then buy it for your friends. So good.)
Alecia, who lives and works in New York now, mentioned to me once that when she does readings from her book up there, it's almost like her book is a fantasy novel because Ricki Jo's lifestyle is so foreign to kids who are growing up in the city. That conversation stuck with me, because I'd never really given that much thought. After I considered it, I realized that the idea of growing up in a place with no front yards, with thousands of people living around you, where the traffic never really stops--that hardly seems real to me either.
Where I grew up, five o'clock traffic isn't even a thing. I could sit on my parents' front porch and hear the soft sound of water trickling at the start of the Dix River across the road. Our cows getting out and traipsing down the road was about as rowdy as it got around there. It was beautiful and quiet, and I still feel the need to escape to it every now and then.
I love being a southern girl. It's always one of the first things I say when asked to describe myself. That one word says so much about a person and about a place. I love wide, open spaces with tall weeds, wildflowers, and enormous trees. Religion is a big part of my life. I think sweet tea should be consumed daily. I think all girls should know when to be ladies, and all ladies should drink bourbon. I have a deep appreciation for great football. Everything tastes better when it's made from scratch. There's no party like a good field party with a bonfire and pickup trucks. I believe that "Yes Ma'am," "No Ma'am," "Please," and "Thank you" are some of the most powerful words a person can say.
There are times when I wonder what it would be like to have grown up somewhere else, or to live somewhere else now. While the glamour of city life appeals to me now and then, especially as I learn more and more about the publishing industry, I just can't imagine being this in love with another place. No matter where I go, I'm always going to want to come back to peace and quiet on a wide front porch with a huge glass of iced tea.