We spent nights roller skating in "buck barns" until they were filled with the racks of curing tobacco leaves. We rode dirt bikes to each other's homes. Everyone was welcome. Everyone was important. Everyone was loved. This is the memory of my youth.
I went to school in this small town where every one knew your name, your momma and your daddy. My daddy was the preacher of the First Baptist church there. We had moved from Mississippi, my mothers home, to be back with the people of this small town. A homecoming for my dad, a transition for the rest of us. But, we fit right in. Small town living runs deep in our blood.
I played little league baseball, alongside my best friend. The only two girls on a team of all boys. We didn't know we were breaking new ground at the time. We just wanted to pay ball. So, with a lot of pestering, and through the good heart of the team coach, he let us on the team. We entered new ground. Slamming the ball over the heads of the out of town boys who thought girls couldn't play as good as them. I was a tomboy back then. My husband now can't see it that in his prissy Mississippi girl even today. Somewhere along the way, I found my femininity. A label to this days, I find demeaning. I'm a Carolina girl at heart.
Fishing back ponds with my daddy, catching flounder off the Carolina coast, pig pickings and tractor pulls at the park, those are my fondest memories. We moved away, back to my mother's hometown of Columbus, Mississippi. I seemed to fit in just fine. I was asked to join the high school Social Club. That's as big as it gets in these parts. I married the local high school football star. Been together 31 years. Little changes here. Raised a family, built a house, yell #Hailstate for the College team just 14 miles from our home, but somewhere in the timeframe of my youth to my middle years, I long for what I once knew as my home. North Carolina people are gentle, soft spoken, loving and welcoming.
My brother stayed there, married a beautiful girl, and started his own family there. I still envy him some days. He has two beautiful grown children who have made their lives there. We are what seems at times, worlds apart. But, Carolina will always be in my blood. I long to be there more as I grow order. Visiting with Mrs. Hilda as she talks her sweet Carolina drawl. Remembering friends and family I've missed seeing through the years. My heart longs to be home once again.
I've married a Mississippi boy. He's slow speaking, kind and gentle. He reminds me of the boys from my youth. "We've done good ," he says. And it's true. Memories, family, and our faith. That's what we focus on. As the sun sets and the dogs head off to the lake, I'm reminded that I always have a little of Carolina with me all the time. If only in the memories, sweet as they are, they are real, vivid and honest.
From tobacco fields, to cotton. From Mississippi to North Carolina. Home is deeply rooted in my mind.