2008/07/04

Why I Love My Country

Of course, there are lots of reasons not to love America these days. You don’t need me to review it for you. It’s not pretty. That’s all I’ll say.

But, I do love this country. My love is less to do with what America is today, or even the ideals of liberty on which it was founded. I love my country simply because it is my home.

My antecedents came here in the hope of a new and better life, unlimited by scarcity of land and diminishing opportunity. Oh, and one was running from a murder rap, and one was escaping the draft. But, despite their selfish motivations it was America that held hope for them, and it was in America that they were able to build new lives.

Only here, in my home, can I walk the pasture lands that grazed my great-grandfather’s sheep. It’s only here that I can put my own hands on the stones he laid for his family’s home, corral. Both still standing and still in use.

I can drive past the place where my grandfather first saw my grandmother. “She was the prettiest thing I ever did see,“ he once told me. And I thought I saw a tiny little tear in his eye but it could have been the sun. The house where he grew up is still standing. Barely.

I can still talk to people who went to elementary school with my grandparents and tell me stories of their childhood antics. I’ve learned, for example, that Aunt Toadie (actually Thelma) got her nickname because of my grandfather throwing frogs on her. She used to run around the house screaming, “Oh Albert… stoooooop.” And my granddaddy would switch directions and wait just around the corner from her and then throw another frog on her. They both grew up to be unbelievably respectable, community leaders and all. But, I have this one precious story to remind me that they were fully human too.

I can’t do any of those things anywhere else. Even the coolest, greenest, best educated countries can’t give me what I find right here at home, my own history.

What I need, what I’ve searched for all my life, is a sense of belonging and being connected to something. As a young woman I ran away from Texas just as fast as I could, certain that there was nothing here that was good for me. And at the time it was a good decision so no recriminations on that. It would’ve been bad if I’d stayed. But, I have been surprised to find that the demons I came back here to bury have led me to sources of the very thing I’ve been looking for all along. The silver lining is growing even as the thunder clouds recede. I am connected to the dusty hills of West Texas and the old families who dared to make it their home. I am not just floating, without ties to anything. There is a place where I belong. My home. The good and the bad. America.

5 comments:

FranIAm said...

Oh Lindy- I can't find language to tell you how this post has touched me, and so deeply.

Thank you will have to do. Thank you.

Grandmère Mimi said...

Roots. Connections. That's why I still love New Orleans so. It's my home, even if I have not lived there for over 40 years. Beautifully written, Lindy. I understand.

Diane said...

Absolutely. It's not perfect. but it's home.

Presbyterian Gal said...

While I don't have a long family history here in Southern California, it's still my home. I understand what you mean, though, even without the long stories. I have current stories.

And that physical connection to this land. I think that's something that's not cultivated any more. Our physical connection to the earth beneath our feet.

Great post!

Barbi Click said...

dammit...here I am in St. Louis...and thinking that I can actually separate myself from my 6th generation Texas roots...
dammit, Lindy...
you made it all come back to the surface...