In recent weeks our daily lives have been disrupted. We’ve shifted from our usual interactions with friends, family, and colleagues to different forms of communication. In this time I am reminded of ties to home and those summer evenings with the family around a fire pit. Slapping mosquitoes off our legs and waiting for the sun to ease below the hills so that the night could cool off while we stoked the flames. I am reminded of how grateful I should be for those winding evenings with loved ones. It is these moments of drought that force us to appreciate what we have in front of us. In turbulent times if we have no concept of where we came from then we will end up turned around inside out.
In his Appalachian Values essay Loyal Jones wrote, “We are oriented around places. We never forget our native places, and we go back as often as possible.” I have always called Estill County home, but as the years have moved on I have found myself tied closer to Berea. Through college, into my first professional experience, and getting married here. It has become obvious that Berea was much more than just a pit stop in my life. But I can never forget my home in Irvine. As my wife and I curve through Red Lick, a backroad between Berea and Irvine, it comes to me how blended home can be. The lines of Madison and Estill County have become transfused in my mind, a geographical boundary that has existed to me since I was a child and we would visit family in Richmond. Loyal’s quote about how we orient ourselves around place continually rings truth. Counties in Eastern Kentucky or boroughs in New York, these places and the people around us are what have the greatest influence on how we tread through life.
Home might be an area code or a region. It could just be where you feel the love. Even those who drift have some place that pulls on the needle of their inner magnet. For some that place may not be where they were raised but perhaps a center on campus or a group in the community. In a time when they expect that support and familiarity they have found themselves uprooted. But the spirit of this campus community including places like the Appalachian Center remain with them, prepared to serve in any way possible. In uncertain times we may not always feel at home, but those lasting impressions of our origins are engraved into our being. We may be distant, but we are still present.
Article Written by Rick Childers