Can’t quite place you…

Rod Dreher returned to the blogging world last month; having left the Dallas Morning News (and Dallas) for the Templeton Foundation and Philadelphia last year, he is now at The American Conservative and is in the process of moving back to the homestead in Louisiana. This is utterly unsurprising for anybody who read the old Crunchy Con blog (which, alas, appears to be completely gone); he had commenters telling him three or four years ago that such a return was probably not only inevitable for him, the sooner he did it, the happier he’d be.

He posted this today, which reminds me a lot of some things he said a couple of years ago. That post no longer exists, but this was my response to it at the time, which excerpts a chunk of his words and meditates on them in the context of my own life experience. I love the sentiment, but my own circumstance remains that there’s nothing for me to return to in geographic, familial, or conceptual terms, so I don’t quite know what it should really mean for me in a practical way. Even if we define “the place to return to” as “where your parents are” (as mine have often insisted), the parent I’m closest to geographically I don’t presently have a relationship with and the parent I have a relationship with is a 10 hour flight away, so… yeah.

Along similar lines, this has been making the rounds, and I must say I’m curious about the book. Since Alaska isn’t even on this map, I was apparently born nowhere, but I grew up on the Left Coast and have lived for the last eight years in Greater Appalachia. My grandparents were originally from the Left Coast and Far West, and their grandparents were from either Denmark or New Netherland.

Culturally, at least in these terms, I’m not sure I’m really anything in particular. I never totally felt at home culturally in Seattle, nor do I feel totally at home in Indiana. From a cultural standpoint, I think I was raised pretty standard-issue single-child family suburban whitebread. To the extent that there was money, it was first (and last)-generation, and I’m a first-generation college graduate. I’ve heard my parents call themselves working-class, but they were/are very much on the professional end of working-class. Non-commissioned officer, in a manner of speaking. (On the other hand, my mom’s parents were very much working class; my dad’s parents were merchant-class.) My dad, Alaska-born after his dad fled the lower 48, had made a ton of money selling office furniture to the oil companies in Anchorage during the ’70s, only to have us lose everything by the time I turned 10 when the price of oil tanked. That makes me the offspring of ex-nouveau riche, I suppose.

Ironically, as I’ve mentioned before, there’s a family mansion in Minnesota that my great-great-grandfather built (in Barrett, Minnesota, natch) that within two generations everybody had abandoned and forgotten about. Had those generations of the family gotten along, I might have wound up being culturally from Yankeedom. As it is, I’m chillin’ in Greater Appalachia wondering where in the world the jobs (assuming there are any) will take us once the PhDs are done.


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