Mostly, I accept me. I am who I am... shaped by the chaos that has infused my life from the very beginning juxtaposed by the slow grace and lovely heart of the place I was born. I definitely count as an anomaly... a progressive, feminist humanist in the midst of the conservative South. I've always been 'headstrong' (their word, not mine) and 'not quite right'. Let's just say that I have quoted Willie Shake more than once during my life in rural Tennessee, when faced with the rather set ideal of what I should be...
“Oh! That I were a man!”
There are other times... outside the frustration of that cry... that I feel as one with this little burgh that made me. The faces, the streets, the long country lanes, 120 year old brick buildings, a Mayberry-esque court square... I know them all so well that it leaves me as warm as the long summer days, honeysuckle sweetness and dappled sun. There is much to be said for the comfort of the familiar... even when some of it has served to frighten or cage you.
I went away... wandered. Came back, drifted... then back again. Each time, swearing I would leave for good. I would shake the dust of this redneck town off and find a place where I didn't have to guard my true political and religious views, where I could support my causes, raise my boys and leave off fear of being ostracized for my differences.
Then, when I thought I was long past it... I would hear the whippoorwills calling, the frogs and crickets chirping through the lavish night... I would yearn for the baking heat... feel the Tennessee River water running in my veins... I would long to hear the lilted language of my home. It always lies in my cheek, but I've learned to turn it off when I'm 'away', though the sound of my own voice becomes tinny and empty when I am forced to do so... It's always so right to hear it falling around me like rain.
It's definitely a part of what finally drove me home, probably for good. I'm finally at the place in my own skin that my juxtaposed beginnings seem to have melded. I'm no longer afraid to be the real me while loving what made me so conflicted in the first place. This is me. This is my life. I'm a Southern woman with progressive leanings who home schools her children in a secular fashion while living practically on the buckle of the Bible Belt. I love my sweet home town, while not being afraid to vote and speak about the changes it needs to embrace to be better. I'm finally unafraid to let go of the past where it hurts me and embrace the future. I shoulder the Southern cross like the martyrs to compromise before me. I am a modern Southern woman.
Hear me Roar, y'all.