Dear Kentucky, I've been seeing someplace else. This isn't like my usual week or three jaunts to some farflung place, when I return happy to be back in my own hometown. You may have been noticed I've been gone a lot lately – one long weekend after another, and recently a nine day stretch.
I've been … in Detroit. We bought a house there.
But I can't help it – I'm mad about the D. Like, new-crush, can't-get-enough, I-want-to-be-there-all-the-time-and-talk-about-it-when-I'm-not kind of crazy for it. But I promise, Kentucky – you are my one true home and will always be. Yes, Detroit has a mystique and an allure I haven't found anywhere else in the world. It's the most exciting place I can imagine being right now. And I want to get to know its history and its today and its secret places. But, Kentucky, you will always be my home. I may spend a good chunk of time up there, but I love Louisville, and you too much to make a full-time move.
Sometimes I find myself wondering what it would have been like to grow up in such a city. But the truth is, I don't know who I'd be if I hadn't grown up right here, in the state where my family comes from; where I wandered fields and woods and creeks; where I climbed trees; where I fell off tire swings and went swimming and when I was old enough, cruised the mall like every other small town kid. Where I walked to my friends' or cousins' house, secure on country roads; where I watched my Papa chop wood and clean fish, and ate biscuits from my Mama's table; where my parents parked their car at the end of the road so we could hike back to the cabin in the woods where my other grandparents lived (passing through what will forever be known to my brother and me as Snake Village). These and a million other Kentucky moments made up my growing up years and made me, me. The me that now craves the once-in-a-lifetime chance to be part of what's happening in Detroit.
And it may be up north, and a whole other culture, but really, it's not so very different. A lot of Kentuckians moved up there back when they were sending buses down south to find workers for the auto plants. It's full of friendly people who will strike up a conversation with you and welcome you to their town. I think you'd like it. It has its troubles, too, pretty awful ones. You might call it an underdog. But for all that we're rocking the bourbon-and-fried-chicken-are-awesome train right now, we both know Kentucky hasn't exactly always been a place a lot of people aspired to. People say low things about us here sometimes, and Detroit knows that feeling well, too. You have more in common than you'd think. (Also, they make some fine whiskey!)
I don't want to have to choose, and luckily, I don't have to. I was raised to have a big Kentucky heart and there's plenty of room for you both.