July 16, 2009


It's been a month now since we were home in Arkansas for Colin's christening. Home. It sounds strange calling someplace home when I haven't lived there in a decade. To christen my son in a church he will never attend. And yet, for all the places we've lived -- even the places we've really loved -- no place could ever be home to me the way Arkansas is. All my family lives there. Most of my friends. There is an intricate community of people I know and who know me -- even if it's just as Stark and Marianne's daughter, Matilda's granddaughter -- it's a whole history that's lost when I am not home.

There were fifty friends and relations at the luncheon following Colin's christening, a number that astounds me. I don't believe I know fifty people in total outside the State of Arkansas. I have no illusions that they were all there to see me. They were there to see a new baby, mainly, but many of them were also there out of love for my parents, and there's something comforting to me about that chain of love -- no matter how indirectly it may touch me -- that I really miss when I am away.

It bothers me that Colin will likely never know that same sense of place, of community, even if we do settle somewhere permanently and really set down roots. Connections like those take generations to form, and sometimes I wonder if there is fertile ground left in the world for such antiquated networks.

Even if Colin does find community like that somewhere, it probably won't be in Arkansas. If I'm being honest, he will probably never know Arkansas as anything other than the place his mom is from. He won't miss the green the way I do. Or the piney, earthy smell or the whirr of cicadas. He won't miss summers so hot and humid, it's like the world has become one big sauna. He won't grow up with a Southern accent. He won't even grow up talking with my remnant of one.

But at least he will know that such places exist, that there are places on earth where it's impossible to be anonymous, and that maybe that's not such a bad thing. Where the good you do in this world lingers for years after you have left it. And the bad. Where, to quote one famous neighbor of mine, "the past isn't over, it isn't even past." I hope he finds a place like that one day, a place to call "home."

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