Thanksgiving and the day after is over. Sherry and Jack and John and Robbie came and went. Tim and Mimi left today. Kathy came today and will leave tomorrow with the girls--her dad has been in hospital and kept her in Baltimore until today--Josh will stay for his 20th High School Reunion on Saturday (how did that happen...that a child of mine graduated from High School two decades ago???)
For some reason today I've been pondering where I was 'from' and how that formed me in so many ways. Part of it was because the people around me, except for Bern, were 'from' other places and formed much differently than I was.
I'm from West Virginia, the southern most county of McDowell. Those who are 'from there' say it in 2 1/2 syllables--MACK-Dow-ell. One of the few words we say (those of us from the Appalachian place) that doesn't have the accent on the last syllable. We say "tor-na-DO" and "Merry Christ-MAS"
and end all sentences on an upbeat that makes the simplest thing sound like a question: 'lovely day to-DAY" we'd say.
Where I grew up, when you met someone you'd ask them "Where are you from?"
And they'd say 'Pageton' or 'Welch' or 'Crosier Holler' or 'Little Creek' and you'd know volumes about them just from that--who their 'people' were and how they showed up in the world. Knowing where someone was 'from' was knowing them pretty well.
In New England I have to remind myself to ask strangers "what do you do?' because that's the operative question up here.
Being 'from' West Virginia, especially McDowell county is formative in a myriad of ways. First of all, you don't think you're as good as most people and you enter any encounter as an underdog. Secondly, you have to be twice as smart to be noticed. Thirdly, you have trouble dealing with people who are 'well off'. It's just like that. Really. And always.
Being an Appalachian means starting with a 4 handicap. It just does.
In just less than seven decades I've pared some of that away, but in some ways yet, I'm just a boy "From" McDowell County, with all that entails. Try as you might, where I come from, you can't escape 'where you come from'....
I'm OK with that, it's just the way it is.
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