A few months ago, at my mother's request (ok, demand), I went to a professional ladies' dinner meeting. It was held in a crumbling, decaying mansion in the heart of the city's historic district. I ate scalloped potatoes and lemon Jell-O and soaked in the atmosphere around me. To my surprise, I enjoyed myself immensely.
One recurring thought that I had throughout the entire meeting was how much I love my hometown and region. I had not realized how strongly I felt about it. I have not traveled as much as I would like to have, but of the little bit I've seen of the rest of the world, I can positively say that I would not want to live anywhere else but here. In a lot of ways, I do not fit into the society here, but for as long as I can remember, with one exception, I have never wanted to live anywhere other than this sleepy little city on the Mississippi. It has a good-sized metropolitan area, but the people here have generally lived here for their entire lives, so everything has a small town feel.
People in other parts of the country tend to make fun of the south. Everybody has their ideas about how we live, who we are, how we dress, and what we think. Some of these ideas are justified, but some of them are not. What I wonder is this: Have these people ever seen huge, hot pink azalea bushes blossoming in front of every single house on a street? Whole neighborhoods alive with color? Have they experienced dogwood trees in full bloom? Have they ever sat on somebody's front porch with a tall glass of lemonade or iced tea? Do they have meetings where glossy ladies sparkle and shine and laugh and smile and eat chicken and green beans off of 100-year-old mismatched plates of bone china while sitting in a 19th century building that still belongs to the original family? Does their family have a "Ma Dear" or a "June Bug" in it? What about "Big Earl" and "Lil' Earl"? Have they ever talked to little old ladies with sassy mouths and perfectly styled hair who still dress up every Thursday and have lunch at the museum restaurant? I'm willing to bet that most of them haven't.
For all its problems, clichés, and backwards ideas, this is home.
Questions, Prompts, and Exercises
Where is "home" for you?
Are you in this place by choice?
What do you love about your city, town, region, and/or country?
What will you remember most about it 50 years from now?
If the place where you are currently living does not feel like home to you, describe some place that does.
Draw or photograph your favorite city landmarks.
List the characteristics that make your hometown unique. Who or what makes it like no other place on earth?
Create a collage that includes all of the things you enjoy about where you live.
List the little quirks and idiosyncracies common to the people in your area.
How would you defend your region against its critics?
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© 2000 Dawn R. Vinson. All Rights Reserved.