I was able to return to the city of my birth for a few days in order to visit my two precious Great aunts. With every visit, Baton Rouge changes. While it is still reeling from the population shift caused by Hurricane Katrina, it is experiencing a certain growth. Most impressive is downtown. Growing up in Baton Rouge, I remember downtown as a near vacant lot full of stories of this or that once impressive event, perhaps even a ghost or two. Now, thanks to the movie stars and their fancy moving picture shows constantly filmed in and around the Baton Rouge-New Orleans area, even the hotels remembered not for their swankiness but for their tales of murdered patrons are once again resurrected.
I lived for a short time in McComb, Mississippi. There was one exit that had anything meaningful. Now, there are three exits, a big mall, lots of hotels, and other amenities. Cities grow and cities die, I guess, but sometimes, I wish progress would go somewhere else. I remember the good people of Amite County that shopped in McComb. Farmers, timberers, and the like. Now? Now the city draws more than the back-40.
I’m not complaining, just a little wistful for the smaller towns of my not-so-long-ago youth.
On the other hand, I’ve always enjoyed leaving this part of the world. I once made it my life’s goal. I remember the first glimpses of the more-than-rolling-hills once you get past Meridian Mississippi, and the joyous view of Birmingham’s almost-mountains. It was in short order that I would then see mountains and then see West Virginia. I know where I’ll stop on the way home because that’s where I’ve always stopped when I trekked from here to there. Of course, the places are newer and larger, but I don’t care. I get to go back to my home among the mountains, among the good people of this earth, where progress is always tempered with tradition. These wide-open spaces are nothing compared to the surrounding warmth of our mountain mother. The bayous are fine, but they do not drawn the goings-on of the hollows, rather, the hollers.
Maybe the big cities no longer hold the fascination they once did, preferring instead smaller cities, smaller towns, or no towns except on Saturdays when you have to go. There are problems, no doubt, in West Virginia, and sometimes they are overwhelming, but once these people wake up and take their lives back, there is no stopping West Virginia. Enough of this concrete jungle, this view of nothing but another building, I want to see God’s green earth reaching up to do battle with the heavens when I hope my window! I simply cannot wait to return home.