But I didn't realize how far removed I have become ideologically from "my people". Despite spending every waking moment in high school dreaming of getting the heck out, I never thought that I would one day be an outsider in my hometown. But it has happened...I have lost my hillbilly cred.
I know those people though. I know their pride and prejudices and the fallacies they buy into. I know how the high school boys read just enough about the civil war to pick up the "state's rights" argument and convince themselves that those rebel flag licence plates on the front of their Cameros don't really represent institutionalized racism. I know the ones for whom a
Well, I moved away and my world got bigger. It got a lot bigger.
In high school, my best friend was Rachael. Rachael will live out her days in our home town. She "admires" me for getting out and doing the things she only dreamed about. When I see her again, it's like not a day has passed that we were apart. I always thought it would be the same with my hometown, but it's not. I'm an interloper and it hasn't been comfortable in years.
I don't like to go home. It's not the poverty and depressed economy. It's the people. It's the racism and sexism and the unbearable stifling intolerance. I don't know when it happened, but I started looking on them as less. Folks in the mall shopping at Christmastime. Less. Folks in the restaurant. Less. I know they wouldn't approve of me and the things I do. The things I like. The choices I make. The only reason I can walk among them invisibly is because I lay low back there. I don't take my business home.
At the same time, I can't just accept the racism and sexism and intolerance and keep my mouth shut. I'd rather not go home at all.
Now when I think of home, I think Chicago. It's that skyline my heart yearns to see. I'm not sure if I'm an orphan from Appalachia, but I know where I feel most comfortable. Sweet home Chicago.