14 April, 2014

Brief Meditation on the Metaphysical Politics of Place and The Good Friday Assault (A Story)

I've often told my friend Jared Salyers that I am jealous of his sense of place.  With very few exceptions, he has never wandered far from the place he knows is his home -- Olive Hill, Kentucky. With very few exceptions, I have more or less avoided my childhood home -- Bethel, Ohio. His reasons for staying are startlingly similar to my reasons for staying away. His sense of connection to the area where he was born and raised -- and where he is now married and raising his son -- runs deep. 

This will seem like an unremarkable statement if you are a native Kentuckian. Since I am an implant from the dirtier side of the dirty, sacred river, I often meditate on it with a sense of wonder. Native Kentuckians fall more or less into two distinct categories:
  1. those who love it, identify with it, and feel in their bones (whether they stay or go); and
  2. those who leave, and once they leave, rarely feel the need to return.
There is a pull to ground in Kentucky that is unlike any other place I've been. And even though it took me a long time to get here -- and even though I will need to scratch my itchy foot from time to time -- this is the place I call home.  I don't have the same connection with the place that others have -- a connection that in my mind gets wrapped up in my notions of grace, as a gift bestowed by the universe for reasons beyond our reckoning that are probably not worth the energy to try and understand.  And because I do identify that sensation of knowing home in your bones for your entire life as a kind of grace, like any good Protestant Reject I recognize the other path to paradise comes in the form of works.

Love and impossible gravity* drew me here. Love and impossible gravity keeps me centered. And it is because of love because of impossible gravity that I am embracing every facet of my life.

Lately, this has meant learning. Learning how to garden. Learning how plumbing works. Learning how to repair things, make things, how to plan for years instead of days and months -- and learning that plans are only good plans if they are fluid and if they are grounded in love and in impossible gravity.

Places, like people, wilt and rot if they fall into neglect. Places, like people, will rise out of the fog someone is willing to put the work in.

And there is beauty in wilting and rotting. And there is beauty in rising out of the fog, washing
everything in sunlight and in water, and in pulling out what arguably should have never been there... like the carpet upstairs. Except for where a very old, very sick, very incontinent cat destroyed the pine floorboards, the floors are sturdy and in good condition. In spite of some the fantastically disastrous "improvements" (people who don't know how to do wiring should not do wiring. People who don't understand gravity should not install plumbing.)  done to this house by the people Amanda bought it from and in spite of some age and wear and tear, the bones of it are good. We're putting a lot of energy and thought into the place. We're going to be planting an expanded garden soon, and we are planning to expand it further next season using terrace gardens.

This clay did not birth me and I will never be able to say that. But I will be able to say I put in the work to justify calling this place "home."






The Good Friday Assault 

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