My family has taken a beach vacation every summer for as long as I can remember. At the end of each trip, I would always spend a few minutes “saying goodbye” to the beach as the sun rose and last things got packed into the car. I loved the memories wrapped up in our little getaways and leaving the magic of the sand & sea always had me literally on the verge of tears.
As I meet new people from all over the map, I’m continually intrigued by the fact that where a person grows up tends to lose its novelty in their eyes. As someone nonchalantly tells me where they’re from, I often gush, considering how wonderful it would be to live in a place like that while they shrug their shoulders at what has become commonplace to them. The wonder—of the beach or mountains or plains or cityscape—is squelched by years of uninterrupted accessibility.
I don’t know that everyone would necessarily ooh & ahh as I tell them I grew up in rural Appalachia and I’ve definitely been guilty of either downplaying or criticizing it.
However, as I’ve spent some time away, I’ve been more inclined to swoon when I come home to Kentucky.
Sometimes it takes leaving and later returning to a place to really break into numbness with new gratitude and reclaim that sense of wonder.
I am from homemade sweet iced tea and crawdads in the creek,
from the house on the hill that has always been home.
From drawn-out vowels
and words rolling off tongues with no hint of urgency.
From stringin’ green beans on the front porch swing
and hand-plucked basketfuls of blackberries.
From hide-and-go-seek at the family furniture store
and piles of snails unearthed beneath the back dock.
From fishin’ in the dark
and five “one more round”s of kick-the-can.
From carelessly bare feet
and bloody knees awarded by bikes crashed at the campground,
where we ran wild and slept on bonfire-scented hair.
From the sound of Papaw’s bluegrass guitar
and the Christmas story read from his corner chair.
From the simple gospel
and the “That’s right” and “Amen” echoing throughout weathered pews.
I swear that those hills we rolled down so euphorically must roll on for years
and everything in between them has shaped me.
I’ve grown just as the wisteria above the patio
and I smile upon the sweetness of childhood,
upon the starry rooftop skies and the world I built in my backyard.
I’m still captivated by beach sunrises & I still don’t leave the ocean without saying goodbye.
Maybe I did always believe that the grass was greener somewhere, anywhere else,
but now I know that beauty can be found wherever we choose to see it.
I’m thankful for where I’m from and where I’m headed,
but no matter where I land, the grass beneath my feet is green enough for me.