My city slicker friends won’t get this, especially not the ones who are born-and-bred suburbanites or urbanites. And that’s okay; different strokes for different folks. As I prepare to embark on the next chapter of my life, a chapter wrapped in urban life, a one-bedroom apartment downtown, I’m more sentimental than ever about rural life. I’m thrilled for the next step, but I also know that the fond memories I have now of these wide open spaces and familiar places will have to last me a little longer.
I’ve been listening to one song on repeat a lot lately. Usually, I’m in the car with the windows down, the wind whipping my hair, sunglasses on and my left arm (which is now a darker shade of “pale” than my right arm) resting on the edge of the driver side window. And, I’m usually on a wide open road, tar-and-chip or gravel or dirt.
You can probably guess the song. It’s the ballad of country kids all over. We hear it come on, we sing it loud and proud, and we are usually unapologetically sentimental about it. Whether you still live in a town of 300 people, or you’re a farmer’s daughter living in a high rise in between jet-setting business trips all over the continent, it speaks to the soul.
I hear those first few notes on the guitar and then chime right in with John Denver, “Almost to heaven, West Virginia…” West Virginia may not be my heaven, but the love and passion he sings of for that place, it appeals to anyone who’s ever lived in a forgotten nook or cranny of rural America. Whether you nestle in the woods or you can see for miles in all directions on the great wide plains or you hear the sounds of the mountains around you at night, there’s a road (or several) that come to mind when that chorus kicks up.
“Country roads, take me home to the place I belong. West Virgina, mountain mama, take me home, country roads.”
I love the country. But I’ve loved cities, too. You can love both. I’m looking forward to a fresh start. At the same time, though, those summers spent in pastures with our steers, Saturdays on the river with the bluegill and pike and catfish and carp, evenings around a bonfire with a few friends around and a million stars overhead…they stick with you.
And every time I hit the road to rekindle my rural roots, you can bet I’ll be bringing John Denver with me.