An (intendedly cheery) illustration of the cold and empty prison in which I live.
• • •
Beautiful land, dismal people.
That is my best summarization of the southern region of the U.S., and a particularly accurate description of the, at times, almost unbelievable, state that is Kentucky.
The juxtaposition would almost be humorous, if not for how sad it is. Look around and see great, soaring mountains, reaching and climbing and progressing, stretching for the heavens; the whole land covered with millions of different wondrous creatures; the forests and foliage most vibrant and enticing, exuding life, and, come autumn, burning with the most furious and incomprehensible oranges and reds and yellows.
And, then, the inhabitants of this land, most of whom hold in one hand a cigarette and in the other a Mountain Dew, driving their deafening trucks with massive Rebel flags flying on the back, leaving an almost visible trail of nasty. (This is not a joke, nor is it hypothetical.)
The stark contrast between the proud and awe-inspiring land, its diversity and the mountains’ constant climb upward and onward, and the human majority who are completely stagnant, suspended like a bubble in Jell-O in their own tiny town (some might even say they’re actually regressing), is incredible.
I really have pushed myself to dig, search, scavenge, for the good in these people and in this small town. To some degree, I have succeeded. There truly are compassionate and worthy qualities found in the general Southern population. I know that. Additionally, for me to generalize millions of people goes roughly against everything I hold true. Therefore, my purpose for writing is not to incriminate the people who live here, but to express my violently obvious misplacement—express my need to go elsewhere. Kentucky is not my bag, my niche, nor my cup of tea. I simply belong somewhere else, and that does not speak badly of Appalachia’s inhabitants. It only means that I am a cube that has been stuck aggressively inside a circular hole. I feel in my often heavy heart that this is not the place for me; if I ever dream of creating myself—if I ever wish to even graze with my fingertips my full potential, then I must go.
The truth is that my town’s population is a staggering 88% white—(which is actually a huge increase in diversity! How inspiring!)—and mostly heterosexual, vigorously conservative, Protestant Christian people. I crave more. I crave rich, bursting diversity. I want to see people of all kinds. I want to hear them and speak to them and see them surround me, their stories and passions spilling into mine. I desire a world swimming with all things different. I want to take my roots, the progressing, soaring mountains, and to spring from them gleefully into the colorful, changing world.