Saturday, February 4, 2012

A Broader Interpretation of Relative

I grew up in a small town in southwest Virginia in the Appalachian Mountains. An  agrarian, minimally industrial, coal mining, majority Protestant Christian town. Not the sort of place a lot of people hang around in once they grow up. We all had big dreams, high hopes, lofty ambitions. I myself excelled at not fulfilling potential, at least not in the manner that ensured a lucrative career and bragging rights at our Class of '77 reunions.

I was in high school with some pretty amazing people though. People who have over the past 30 +/- years traveled fascinating paths. They each have a very personal and unique story to their lives. Stories that are relative to my life because we each spent all or part of our formative years in the rich lands of the valley that the Clinch River flows through. The Mighty Clinch we used to call her, not understanding she was on her way to the Tennessee and then the Mississippi, pouring out in an offering of need and gratitude upon the Gulf of Mexico. A journey to her destiny as a part of the waters that nurture this earth, our mother.

We were too young for Vietnam, too young for Woodstock and Haight Ashbury. We were just old enough though, to know about these things. We were a generation that listened to Kiss and Judas Priest. We experimented with marijuana and drank jungle juice in the light of campfires on summer nights. We watched politicians fall from grace and men walk on the moon. We lived through floods and a gas shortage. Our experiences of these national and global milestones were filtered by being residents of Tazewell County. Our exposure to a rapidly changing world was tempered by the embrace of the mountains we roamed, looking for a way to be and do more than our parents had. 

So today when I read an article online written by a man I went to school and church with as a teenager a different understanding of relative was present. I knew about the article because Ron is on my Facebook friends list. I read the article because it is about someone we were both in school with in the '70s. I have an emotional response to the interview that would be foreign to the majority of the people who read the same words because the history and experience of both the journalist and musician are shared with me, and the other 1200 +/- young idealists who were students at RHS from 1972-1977.

I have a similar reaction each time I come across information that is connected to my roots, my past, my history. It is relative because it is in an odd way a part of me now. Relative to the person I was, am, and will be.

1 comment:

  1. There really is a lifelong connection to the people we grew up with. As I look at my Facebook friends from high school, I am so pleased to see the adults they have become, remembering the children we all were. We may not be a part of each other's daily lives, but through Facebook I can celebrate their victories with them and mourn their losses. It grounds me in a way that nothing else does because we all came from the same place. Yes, it is a different type of relative, but relative all the same. Great post! Thanks for sharing.