When I was 20 I left home. I left quick. I left eager. I left optimistic.
I sped west gaining miles between my home and wherever the road led.
When I was 22 I met a fellow mid-westerner. I fell for him quick. We wed eagerly, full of optimism. Broke. Brazen. Boisterous. Residing in unconventional abodes. Tent-marvelous. Subaru-cramped. Forest service bunkhouse-pungent. Cabin-idyllic.
As 24-year-old newlyweds, we ventured to Iowa for grad school. Trading big sky country for a future advertised with” fields of opportunities”. Entering into a future often devoid of optimism. Accumulating debt and degrees. Degrees we doubted yet blindly pursued. Degrees that nearly broke us but shaped us. Laying a foundation for our nascent careers.
At 28 we marched south of the Mason Dixon. Consuming caloric dense foods and football fanaticism. Building a home while becoming professionals. We learned balance. Presented at conferences. Won a kickball championship. Pushed our physical limits. Peered into a history with complex race relations.
When I was 31 I came home. Home to a state I didn’t recognize. With enough of an accent labeling me an outsider. Home to a state I dismissed. Unearthing my suppressed desire to return. Caught in a tentative courtship, I am reacquainting myself with my heritage. A heritage cast from the land. Steeped in a dependence on family and community. A heritage with equally messy race relations. I return eager. I return optimistic. I am home.