Tuesday, March 04, 2008

The Pull of Dirt

You live your life getting away from a place. You live there and grow there and are familiar with it...and face it--familiarity breeds contempt. It's true.

But you go back. There's the familiar. It can feel good to go back to a place, especially when there are a host of good memories that do a fair job of covering up the bad times. It can seduce a fellow.
Just about any place has its charms, I'm sure. My dad spent a good part of the later years of his life doing his best to get the Hell away from the Georgia low country where he was born and raised. And what the heck? He ends up back there at the end of his mortal coil.

I recall my father and my cousin Gene standing beneath the Glynn Oak, where it's said that Sidney Lanier penned "The Marshes of Glynn". And Gene and my dad gawked and gabbled over the beauty of the place. It was a beauty that I could not see, then. Later, I could and did, but just at that time I couldn't give a rat's ass about the marshes. And to hear my dad waxing all droopy-eyed poetical and softy over the place--well, it shocked me. The man who generally had nothing but ill to say about the land that was the bosom at which he had sucked.

It's passing strange, the pull of dirt.

Home is where you make it. And you're best served to make the best of things where you are. I can recall my dad champing at the bit to get up to the mountains of North Georgia where he thought the people would be different--where they'd be friendly and have a sense of fellowship. He supposed, I suspect, that there was a magical sense of the egalitarian up in those hills. What a shock he got when he found the mountain men of Georgia to be the most hideous humans he had ever faced. What a great gout of monsters into whose midst he had plunged himself and his family and his future.

The hot, mosquito-plagued flatlands of South Georgia suddenly seemed not so bad, after all. And at least he could understand the dialect and had a sense of what was in the heads of his fellow citizens of Glynn County, even if the mush between their ears was poisonous feces. It was poisonous matter that he at least recognized.

My dad spent the last months of his life having a fair time of it, I think. He reconnected with his nigh life-long best pal, Guy Frazier, from whom he had become estranged for a while. They caroused and I have to say that my dad seemed truly happy when he'd rediscovered his friendship with Guy...one of his old-time revolutionary pals who'd ended up going to work at the Paper Mill and becoming head shop steward and big shot with the Union. Those two did nothing but drink beer and talk politics and go on fishing trips the last few months of my dad's life. I remember feeling totally crushed when they packed up the truck one day to head to Florida to go on a weeklong fishing trip with my Uncle Ersley. And they went without me. It was the first time my dad had gone fishing without me. Man, it hurt. But my dad was happy. I think he dropped dead not ten days after that trip. Good for him for heading off and having a grand time.

Yeah, the old home turf can feel good to a wandering set of feet.

Me--I don't really have a home turf. Born in Brunswick--lived there twice. Done that. Hated it, both times. Lived in Ellijay, and there are some great memories. But the 120 acres is gone--sold off and likely developed (from what I can see from Google Earth). I have no desire to see the 120 acres cut up into four of five "farms" with strangers on my old stomping grounds. It would likely kill me. As for the city of Ellijay--well, it's a land of ignorant, inbred, ultra religious buggerers. James Dickey wasn't speaking in metaphor when he turned Gilmer County and the Cooswatee River into the nightmarish environs of his novel, DELIVERANCE. I have no more desire to venture there than I have of walking into a lion's den covered in bloody ribeye steaks. Decatur, I will visit. Especially now that Mead Road is taken once again by the gentry and the poor are gone.
I don't really have a home turf, as most do. I feel connected to so little. No religion ever fevered my brain. Family ties are all but shattered. I care not a whit for any particular spot I ever lived. (Well, I did love Mead Road--but that was merely a neighborhood.)

The closest thing I think that I have to the feeling most get when visiting a place they think of as “home” would be The South. As a whole. It's my Land. My Nation. I like southern accents. Low country drawl. The Elizabethan gibberish of the mountains. The city-bred accents of the New South. I know what's in the minds of most of these idiots. Their minds are full of crap...but I know what it is. It stinks, and that's okay. It's the way things are.

But that's the size of it.

No more, no less.


Mark Martin said...

I aint got no home either! I guess where I am right now is home, and will feel that way more and more as I grow older if I stay here, but my little home town is an overdeveloped monstrosity now.

Oh well, makes it less sad to never go back if there's "back' to go to. I guess. I kinda envy people with deep roots, but I also like feeling free enough to haul off and move to Wales, whether we ever actually do or not.

HemlockMan said...

I know people who leave the country. Most of them seem pretty happy about the decision. There are some radical adjustments one must make when moving to another nation, but it seems to work out.

I have no real roots, it seems. I do love The South, but probably only because I'm its hellspawn.