On Going Home


I’m heading to Ann Arbor later today to spend time with friends and family on my way back “home” to Milwaukee.  It is always a bittersweet experience.

I consider my true home to be West Virginia.  I was born a Mountaineer and spent my summers there with grandparents, aunts, uncles and cousins.  The state is in my blood and heart and soul.  The people there are “my people” and the struggles they’ve faced in the past and present weigh on me even though I haven’t lived there since I was a small child.  My heart breaks into a million pieces every time I go back and drive by my grandparents farm.  Mr. Peabody’s company bought it and will some day turn it into a coal staging area.  Just like that damn song Paradise.

My other migratory home is Michigan.  I know there are plenty of Appalachian folk who share this dual citizenship – the home of their birth and the home of their parent’s migration for northern factory work.  “Coal mines, moonshine or move it on down the line” as the saying goes.  

I hated the flatlands of Southeast Michigan.  But we did end up near Ann Arbor and that probably saved me – a liberal bastion in the middle of the Midwest.  I managed to get a good education and “escape” the grinding poverty and misogyny.  A few good teachers and professors (you know who you are) managed to lift me up out of the dark recesses of ignorance and fundamentalism.  Thank you for saving my life.

It’ll be nice to visit old friends and stroll around the U of M campus before I head back to my third (and now very temporary) home – Milwaukee.  Maybe some day I won’t feel so fractured.  Until then, a little bittersweet tonic for my soul is not such a bad thing.

7 thoughts on “On Going Home

  1. As we grow older we leave pieces of our heart in places that we love. Pieces of your heart is in the mountains of WV and the streets of Ann Arbor, both of which make you the strong courageous man you are today. My heart breaks everytime I leave the tip of the Cape and McMillian Pier in Ptown or drive by the old farm house I grew up in on mountain. May you find a place to rest your head and remember where ever you go HOME is WHERE the HEART IS!!

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