I turned on the car radio, and I heard these lyrics. “… One thing I know, no matter where I go, I keep my heart and soul in the boondocks …” I thought, someone’s singing about living in the boondocks? I love it. I turned the sound up.
I flipped the blinker on and made a right to my in-law’s house where my daughter waited to be picked up. I sat in the driveway a minute, soaking in the words, feeling happy to have found my people.
“It’s where I learned about working hard. And having a little was just enough. It’s where I learned about Jesus and knowing where I stand.”
I hummed along, thinking about riding country roads on my red bike, often at sunset. I thought of crickets chirping and tall grass moving in the ditch. I thought about the quiet when I’d park my ’79 Chevy Malibu, get out, and stare at the stars. I thought about feeling full. Satisfied. Knowing I had my whole life ahead of me. About how I was in the Midwest, out in the boondocks, yet I felt connected to the whole world.
I liked growing up with corn and soybeans. I like being the daughter of farmers, hard-working people who sweat and swear and never, ever quit.
Little Big Town sang, “You get a line. I’ll get a pole. We’ll go fishing in the crawfish hole. Five card poker on Saturday night. Church on Sunday morning.”
We didn’t fish. We went water skiing. We went to town to play t-ball. We swam in the local pool. We did not play poker on Saturday. We met on gravel roads and drank Miller Lite from cans under a black night sky. But we went to church on Sunday mornings.
“You can take it or leave it. This is me. This who I am.”
As a kid, I’d spend a week each summer at my cousin’s house. She lived in a suburb at the end of a cul-de-sac. We’d knock on the doors of affluent friends’ homes to play in their pools and jump on their trampolines. Back then I wasn’t confident in my place in the world. My cousin would introduce me: “This is Carey. She’s from the farm,” her tone telling me the farm was not a perk her friends would think really cool. I felt shame. I kept it quiet, packed it up with my duffle bag when I went back home.
When I married my husband, I wanted to move to a bigger city, one with a skyline and inter-state freeways and opportunities to dabble in theater. Instead we found a house near his work in town of 50,000. No skyscrapers here.
Making that decision meant I would most likely never run into Jimmy Fallon at a restaurant or become a writer for a sitcom like Friends or Modern Family. It also meant I would most likely never become a farmer.
It is now home to me, this town. Students from around the world attend our university, yet in the scheme of the whole United States, it is still a remote place to visit. The culture here is blue collar, practical. Ritzy restaurants have opened and closed. We have theater and art and coffee shops, but wanna-be actors, travelers, and presidential candidates don’t even see our dot on the map.
Our house was built in 1906; it’s surrounded by old trees and rickety sidewalks. I can bike to the library. My kids can walk to school. I am a thirty-minute drive from my parents’ farm. We picked this house because of wood floors and a cozy nook off the kitchen and a basement apartment. But we got more than that.
Abundance is here.
Like when I gather with my family over fresh bagels on a Sunday. Or when my ten-year-old daughter makes a homemade card that says, “I’m thankful for you.” Or when our neighbors who’ve grown into good friends sit awhile over a beer. Together, we’ve carved pumpkins. We’ve told scary stories around backyard fires. We’ve taken care of each other’s kids.
I sang along as Little Big Town repeated the chorus, “I feel no shame. I’m proud of where I came from I was born and raised in the boondocks ….”
I shut off the car and rang the doorbell to my in-laws’ home. My daughter hugged me around my legs in a happy greeting while my new favorite song “Boondocks” resonated in my head.
Here’s is the song that inspired the name of this blog.
This post is a kick off to the month of NaBloPoMo with BlogHer.