When I tell people where I was born and raised, if they have any inkling of where it is, they tell me about one thing. It stands tall at the convergence of two major arteries: I-71 and I-75. It is top heavy and striped. It holds water and written across the top is, “Florence Y’all.”
For 18 years my life was on the border of Kentucky. In the most Northern tip I spent my days on the edge of the county, a stone’s throw away from Cincinnati. It may just be a location, but I know the land I lived on had a profound impact on who I am today.
I appreciate art deco architecture. My fifth grade teacher was a Kentucky Farmer. Skyline is fine dining to me and give me a bottle of ale 8 and I will take a few swigs with pride. Sometimes I am confused. I grew up on Kentucky soil surrounded by Cincinnati culture.
Despite the confusion, unraveling my origin is unraveling the person I am becoming.
Until I moved miles away from my origin, I didn’t fully appreciate it. I didn’t realize how much I loved the house I lived in, how much I loved the city of Cincinnati, and how much I would miss my hiking trail down the road. It is certainly the people that have crafted the space into something special, but it is more than just trees and sky scrapers. Memories imprint in location.
When I am home my memory gets tickled. I remember the sweet moments of swinging in the park and walking through the streets of Cincinnati under shining Christmas lights. I remember specific conversations I had with dear friends in specific parking lots and specific streets. I remember who I was when I lived in the yellow bed room. I was different.
Today I say “y’all” more often. When I am in Kentucky I say I am from Cincinnati and when I am in another country I say I am from Kentucky. Now I feel more like a nomad, going from place to place. Each place always leaves a mark in some way, whether I am there for a few days or a few months.
It is a process. Some days I don’t even think of how a place shapes me, but it does. I will never be the same, but my origin will always remain.