I am, above all else, a Tarheel. Not Tarheel as in associated with the University of North Carolina (though I am that, too), but Tarheel as in North Carolinian. I have officially resided in nine North Carolina counties: Guilford, Henderson, Buncombe, Forsyth, Orange, Wilkes, Wake, Tyrell, and Durham.
Despite feeling that this state is my one and only home, at times, I feel like a foreigner. Usually, that’s after talking with someone so local they can trace their lineage by the land. There’s a home place they can identify, a farm that an ancestor left behind or didn’t for that matter, a barn known by generations, a spring inherited over and over again, a clapboard house given over to the kudzu back behind a newer brick rancher.
My roots here are shallow. I was born in Guilford county just three years after my parents relocated from Florida. My people come from Georgia, Mississippi, Florida and South Carolina. A generation or two before that, they came South from Indiana, Illinois, New York, and Pennsylvania after arriving a generation or two prior to that from England, Scotland, and Ireland. Like most Americans, I am a mutt. But, I am a Tarheel mutt.
This fascination with place and belonging, how landscape and family make us who we are, drives all of my writing, whether fiction, nonfiction, or poetry. I blog reluctantly and irregularly. I’m from the last generation that learned to write on a typewriter. As such I value paper and binding over ones and zeroes. When I write here, it will be about roots, about seeking out the connections that tie us to place. I may extol beauty, but I will also express my anger at those who would choose to destroy sacred places for profit or pleasure.
Everyone is from somewhere. Everyone belongs somewhere. For some, like the Maasai of East Africa or the Achuar of the Ecuadorian rainforest, the connection is obvious and stated. They are indigenous. Most of us these days are not.
It is human nature to make a home, but it is also human nature to wander. As a species, we have come a long way from our roots in the African savannah. But, still we seek connection to place. What I hope to explore in my writing is how I can situate myself in the world, with the understanding that though I’m not indigenous to anywhere, this Earth is my home. And, it is at once beautiful and fragile and awe-inspiring.