It is green where I live. Soft, rolling, gentle green. The trees push up to rub against the sky, bend down to caress the earth.
It is lush. Things grow here – flowers, plants, animals, people. The land and the air are nurturing. Life seems to flourish without too much strife.
It isn’t fancy, but it looks nice. It isn’t likely to show up in a magazine or win any awards, but that might be because no one thought to look here for award winning things.
It is well known, but not really – more like a catchphrase than somewhere people really know anything about. I think people would be surprised at what they saw if they bothered to look around.
Where I live is not populated entirely by toothless people who talk about “the dia-bee-tez” or are always “fixin’” to go to the demolition derby in cars painted with the Stars & Bars. Where the media tracks those people down every time they mention my state, I do not know. It is about as representative as showing only movie stars when referring to California. Or only white people, for that matter. Tennesseans have teeth.
They also have concern for their friends, their neighbors and complete strangers who might be in a bad place. I have never seen people take care of each other the way my neighbors do.
Where I live, people talk to me in the grocery store. They wait for an answer to “How are you” before rushing on to talk about themselves. They are polite. They are considerate. They signal.
Where I live, people wave when they pass another car, a walker, a biker – not because they know everyone, but because it is the nice thing to do. (I wave, now, too.)
We are an easy target, I guess. Easy to dismiss, easy to make fun of – a middle state in the South, not so forward thinking, still willing to farm and make money other hard ways, still willing to wear our overalls and sit on our porches. We don’t look so shiny and slick to the movers and shakers, but we live what all the glossy magazines say is so “in.” Simple, local, fresh, community. Buzzwords, elsewhere. Here - life.
We are not so into the pretension. Social graces, yes. Presenting a good face, yes. Pretention – not so much as you might think for a place that has a steeplechase in the spring and sometimes wears hats and gloves.
Where I live has its problems, too, just like everywhere else. We don’t do everything right here. We need to recycle more and drive less. We need to remember that some people worship a different god but are still good people. We need to open our minds as easily as we open our hearts.
But, damn it, this is where I live, and I love it. And I am proud of it, and fiercely protective, and I don’t care how backwoods you might think we are here, or how “unessential” we might be to the national economy, or how easy it is to dismiss us as just another slice of backwards flyover country – WHEN THE STATE FLOODS, WE ARE NEWS.
Thanks for the apology, Anderson Cooper, but maybe someone could have noticed us drowning out here without a country music star calling it to media attention.
Yes, the rain stopped. And the ground has dried (but not as much as you might think). Life is back to normal, mostly, but we all cringe when we hear thunder, and the clean up continues and will for a long time. There are still plenty of people out of jobs, out of homes, out of luck. But because we take care of our own, where I live, Nashville will be ok.
Where I live. Y’all may think it is hokey, but I’m pretty proud of it.