going home again

I try to convince myself that my hometown is not what I never really knew it was. You really don't know where you've come from until you've left it. Growing up, you except and don't question your surroundings. You believe that every community is made up of the same types of people and that those people are striving for the same things as the people who make up your community. I thought this. And then... I went to college... and came home.

Sitting at the dinner table with my mother and father I noticed something coming from their mouths that I had never noticed before. It was an accent, a southern, tangy, with a bit of redneck accent. "When did my parents start talking like this? Do I talk like this too? Does everyone here talk like this?" I thought.

When you leave your home and tromp off to college, if you're lucky, you are inundated with accents, or the lack of them, from all over the states and sometimes the world. You, or at least I, began to develop a non-accent, a generic pitch and intonation. I tried to hide my Southerness. I'm not sure why I did this. It could have been that I wanted to meld into the group. It could of been that I was tired of people poking fun of my exaggerated long "i's” like in "why, tired, mine."

Now, my accent flows. My long "i's" are more exaggerated than they ever have been. My now accent is a conglomeration of my North Carolina relatives and my Southwest Virginia roots. I’m proud of my accent and I think I flaunt it a bit now. And I love it when people mimic it back to me because everyone should say their long “i’s” for a bit longer than they think is natural.

But, an accent tells only a portion of a person’s story. Their hometown can tell most of it. My hometown, with its Southwest Virginia twang, tells a story I didn’t realize was being told when I was growing up. I didn’t realize that I was surrounded, on ALL sides by rednecks. I know that now because I’ve lived outside of my hometown and going back to that little town nestled in a valley off the Blue Ridge Mountains shows me how closed off that ridge of mountains makes it. I have nothing against rednecks. To each their own and I can listen to country music and Jeff Foxworthy can be real funny. What I will never understand about these precious people who make up about 70% of my hometown has nothing to do with accents or music but it has everything to do with this:

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