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we are appalachian too
Real talk: I haven’t moved far from this couch for two weeks. My joints have been possessed, dislocating almost every day. Yesterday, my knee popped out of place in the Costco parking lot, so I’ve been living on the wild side, as you can imagine. (Was it worth it for food I can actually eat? Yes, this gastroparesis girl needs her smoothies and chicken broth.) There’s nothing I can do, so I just wait around until it pops back in, creaking about the house like the tin man who’s run out of oil.
So while I have half a dozen newsletters drafted, I haven’t managed to wrangle my brain into finishing one of them. Stay tuned! In the mean time, here is a post that I wrote after my trip back home last July. I actually ended up reading it at an open mic at the Appalachian Foothills Festival.
From Read Appalachia: We Are Appalachian Too
In an article for Book Riot, I wrote about this scene:
I recently traveled home to Appalachia and visited my old haunts, eventually finding myself sitting at the edge of the Ohio River. An old river barge came around the bend, meandering its way under the bridges that connect Ohio and Kentucky. I used to watch scenes like this every day. I never realized how much I took them for granted until I left. I love where I came from and the people that made me who I am today. Even with its problems, Appalachia is still a beautiful complex place full of life and wonder.
The river connects the two halves of my Appalachian identity, Kentucky and Ohio sitting side by side. Whenever I go home, I often realize that I’m holding my breath right as we turn around the bend. And when I see the river, it feels like I can finally breathe again.
Being an “expatalachian” is a complicated business and often feels like I’m stuck between two worlds. Too city for the mountains. Too mountain girl for the Low Country.
I’ve listened to a lot of folks rant that a lot of us from the diaspora aren’t even hillbilly enough to consider ourselves Appalachian. We’ve changed too much. We’ve experienced too many outside influences. If we really loved Appalachia enough, we would have stayed.
But I see Appalachian expats fight for Appalachia everyday. We create podcasts, newsletters, documentaries, and social media accounts, educating outsiders about the incredible world that is Appalachia, detailing our problems, and showing folks how they can help make Appalachia a better place.
A man interviewing me for an article asked why I still cared about the region when I hadn’t lived in the Ohio River Valley for over a decade. I responded, no matter where I go or where I live, there is still no place like home.
Expats would not advocate this hard if we did not love the place we came from, even if it feels sometimes like it doesn’t love us back.
We are Appalachian too.
Things I Made Recently
“20 Must-Read Memoirs of the Last Decade” (Book Riot)
I share some of my favorite memoirs that I’ve read since I left undergrad. Do I feel old? Yes. But did I read a lot of great books? Also yes.
“Becoming Grateful After Leaving Home” by Garrett Robinson
Look. Garrett writes a lot. He does it all. Science writing, poetry, fantasy novels—all in his delightful wheelhouse. But THIS is where he combines all of those things into a beautiful essays about home, belonging, and memory.