**I am excited to share with you a piece written by one of my students, Lauren Redding. The assignment was to write about how place affects our identity. As we are all stuck at home, I thought it more than fitting to share this now, even though she wrote it several weeks ago. I hope you are blessed by reading this. I know I was! Lauren has a strong voice and is so candid in her writing. I love grading her essays! -Rebecca
I gently punch in the code to the garage door and patiently stand there and wait for there to be enough room for me to quickly creep under the door and run to the warmth of my house. I let out a sigh of relief. Finally, I'm home.
I live in a town where Friday nights at the only high school we have is the highlight of everyone’s week. In my town, you take a drive down the winding back roads passing several churches just to reach a “famous” abandoned bridge. On this bridge you write out your name with the $3 can of spray paint you bought a few hours before. In the town I live in, many people often mutter the words out of anger and boredom, “I can’t wait to get out of this town.”
What about the people who never want to leave? I know I am for sure one of them. In my short sixteen years of living, I have been raised in Lawrenceburg, KY. I have moved for short times, but have always made it back to my hometown of what many call, “The Burg”. Some may say driving around with your friends or going to Walmart isn’t fun, but it’s something I haven’t seemed to get tired of.
It’s mid summer and I’ve been counting down the days till we made our way to the beach. My dad drives me to my friend Emily’s house, and I’m ready to leave for summer vacation. My dad and I pull into her driveway, and I prepare to tell him goodbye. I do not know then that this is the last time I will speak to my dad in the little town of Lawrenceburg, and the last time I will look forward to going to the beach.
The next day, after 10 hours stuffed in a small Toyota Corolla, Emily's family and I finally make it to the beach. Although I am so excited to put my feet in the water, I know my dad back home is missing me and I miss him, too. Only a few days at the beach pass by, and I am told the next time I will speak to my dad will be somewhere unearthly.
Experiences that happen in a specific place can influence how we may think and how we feel. Because I was in North Carolina when my father passed away, I often don’t enjoy going to the beach or anywhere far away because I'm afraid of what may happen at home. As a 16 year old girl, I'm aware I may not be able to stop instances like that, but staying home gives me a sense of comfort. Not only has the feeling of warmth and family kept me loving my hometown, but so have the memories.
In Maggie Smith’s poem, “Homebody”, she explains her love for staying put. “Thirty years apart we were buzzed through the same ward doors and we emptied ourselves there”, In this quote from the poem, Smith explains that her mother, herself, and her children were all born in the same hospital, in the same town. Similar to the type of fun that goes on in my hometown, the author also explains how “Driving around my hometown is a game”. Being a homebody, I know that not all happiness is within the warmth of my home. I know that going on a random trip will dampen my smile. I may become worrisome at times, but I know that I will make my way back home to the place where I have become who I am.
Because I have been spending a lot of time at home lately, it is fitting this post is about home. Even better, I am excited to share some of my students’ writing about home. Several weeks ago we wrote poems modeled after Carl Sandburg’s “Chicago”. My students wrote lines that are so genuine and particularly encouraging right now. I’m also sharing the one I wrote, but I do so with great trepidation--I am no poet. Enjoy!
And the roads that never seem to end.
They tell me it is nothing
They tell me it is small
They tell me it is not known
They tell me they’re just passing through
They tell me they do not see what I see
I say to them it’s home
I say to them there is no other
Here is a town that is genuine
Here is a town that’s truly together
Show me another town that make you take a second look as if leaving is the right decision.
Under the water wishing you could stay
Paused in midair after letting go of that rope...laughing
Singing in your friend’s car at the top of your lungs late at night...laughing
Screaming on Friday night lights for that one touchdown that the whole town is counting on…
Proud to be football;
Proud to be Bearcats;
Proud to be Main Street;
Proud to be nonexistent mufflers;
And proud to be on the road that just never seems to end.
Basketball and football players
They play their hearts out here
Big, tall, fast
Home of the Big Blue Nation
They say you’re this and that
But underneath that big blue jersey
You’re a farmer and a distiller
An athlete and a doctor
A student and a cop
I tell them it’s more than horses and bourbon
It’s more than slums and basketball
But show me another city where everyone bleeds blue
Where horses hold the biggest importance in sports
Where nearly every person is tried and true.
The Beehive of Kentucky
The home of Ale-8
The horse capital of the world
Home sweet home
Stop on the Bourbon Trail.
On the Kentucky River.
Town on top of a knob where we watch the clouds go by.
A city so small no one knows we’re here.
But we are.
They tell me you are too small to matter--
A bedroom for those who work
In larger places
That show up on maps.
They say there’s nothing here--
Nothing to do
Nowhere to go
Nothing to see.
I say to them--they are looking in the wrong direction.
Show me another town humble enough to make the outsider feel at home--
Offer him a little bourbon, a glass of wine, a bowl of burgoo.
Here is a town that is so Kentucky, so America, so Home--
So much more than nothing.
Show me another town that stands so beautifully
When so many pass her by.
Like an owl, resting among branches and in barns, in silence you watch over us,
Grinning in the satisfaction of an old woman looking after her own.
The spreading of darkness is the spreading of your wings,
Grinning you sail through the openness of these skies, looking into the blue-green below,
You see the farmer, the distiller, the happy child.
You grin more.
You see the lonely, the broken, the hurt. They’re here, too. But you’re glad.
You are proud to be a stop on the Bourbon Trail, on the Kentucky River, on I-64,
A place to sit atop a knob and watch the clouds go by,
A place for the weary to sleep.
Welcome to my Blog! I am a wife, mother of three, high school English teacher, and a graduate of the Bluegrass Writers Studio at Eastern Kentucky University. Before anything else, I am a woman of faith.