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This Time Tomorrow
a hometown ballad
The moment the plane touched down in West Virginia, I praised the skies and texted folks that I’d finally landed. One of my Appalachian friends online said, “I can’t wait for you to smell the mountains.”
Home is a heart place as much as its a physical location. When my family moved, carrying my heart across the river into Kentucky, the husk of my childhood remained behind in Ohio. Every time I drive the winding roads back into the nooks and crannies of Scioto County, I’m reminded that the place I grew up, the place I love, isn’t there anymore. The world went on without me.
It snowed this past weekend, giving me a glimpse of the winters I’ve missed. But the South has woven itself too far into my bones, and as I shivered, I mentally ticked off yet another thing that reminded me that I no longer fit in this place.
Last weekend, I attended the first-ever Appalachian Foothills Festival, founded and run by Amanda Page. Amanda’s documentary Peerless City made its world premiere. As I sat in the Vern Riffe Center at Shawnee State University, I marveled at how much about my hometown I didn’t know. The documentary follows Portsmouth, Ohio, through its history of town slogans, each marking a new era of prosperity or decline.
Peerless City doesn’t shy away from the town’s difficult truths, like Portsmouth’s long history of racism and its place as an epicenter for the opioid crisis. The town has also faced a harsh economic downturn as factory after factory closed and people lost the job opputinities that used to be a given.
But as person after person expressed that they still think that their home could bounce back, I felt like I could see glimpse of what might be possible. Their hope is a fragile thing, small and delicate. But given a chance, it might be able to grow.
As my plane taxied across the runway to fly back to the South, I looked out at the familiar tree-covered mountains around me. My heart felt like one of my middle school friendship necklaces, each half wandering on its own, never to be reunited. The moment I leave one place, I’m homesick for the other, always caught in between.
Rolling waves of loss hit me as the plane took off, flying towards the coast, and I watched the mountains until they turned into the foothills, no longer resembling the place I already missed.
Brandi Carlile has been the soundtrack of my life as I navigate home, belonging, and leave-taking. I’ve been playing her latest album, In These Silent Days, on repeat, always drawn back to “This Time Tomorrow”:
When the fire inside that burns so bright
Begins to grow faded
It can be hard to see the ground on which you stand
Though you may not be afraid of walkin' in the darkness
You will feel like a stranger in this land
You can try to carve a faith out of your own
But a broken spirit may dry out the bone
And the edges of the night may cause you sorrow
You know I may not be around this time tomorrow
But I'll always be with you
Yeah, I'll always be with you
Whenever I feel lost for words, Brandi Carlile always knows just what to say.
Things I Made Recently
“Quarantine walks an uncomfortably thin line” by Garrett Robinson
Read Appalachia’s editorial intern Garrett wrote a review of this unwieldy short story collection, full of big feelings about West Virginia. I didn’t technically make this piece, but I edited it. Does that count? We’ll say it counts.
I was researching what books to bring my nephew as a thank you for letting me borrow his room. (Have you ever stayed in the room of a 12-year-old boy? Not for the faint of heart, I assure you.) So I wrote this for anyone else in my shoes.
2022 is the year where I barely know what new books are coming out. But I love seeing Libro.fm’s lists so I can add them to my TBR.
While I was in Kentucky, I played sample of a dozen or so audiobooks for my nephew to see what he thought. Lesson learned: he adores anything Rick Riordan puts out there. He also has strong feelings about who should narrate middle grade books. He said that the narrator should sound like the kid the book is about. I explained that “back in my day” most people expected mature, older narrators for every audiobook, but it wasn’t until young adult and middle grade got a bigger audience that they changed that idea. Artemis Fowl is a great example because it’s right on the edge of that change. By the time Percy Jackson rolls around with its incredible narrater Jesse Bernstein, the world was ready to emphasize the protagonist’s narrative voice. This more tailored approach to casting changed the face (voice?) of kid-driven audiobooks. The fact that Nick was actually interested in this information confirms he’s just a boy version of me. ha!
Nothing like traveling as a disabled person to remind me that the world isn’t built for people like me. So I keep putting out disability-related out into the world in hopes that other people will do the work and better understand the ableist world we live in and what they can do better accommodate different kinds of disabled people.
Book Riot’s Audiobooks Newsletter
Links Linking Links
Speaking of Brandi Carlile, have you seen this incredible version of Country Roads?
Phoenix Rising - A Documentary
Evan Rachel Wood discusses the alleged domestic violence and sexual assault with her boyfriend Marilyn Manson. She and several other women have come forward recently, and this two-part documentary follows her experience since she went public with her story.
As of yet, Manson has not been officially convicted of any crimes, but he was arrested last year in connection with an assault charge from a former assistant. Rolling Stone published a piece last year, “Marilyn Manson: Abuse Allegations: A Monster in Plain Sight”, that details the situation.