elaine mcmillion

nytimes.com
€˜West Virginia, Still Home

Residents of McDowell County, W.Va., share memories and hopes for their rural community€” in jeopardy because of high unemployment and an exodus of young people.

This is beautiful and painful. Beautiful because of the mountains, the resiliency, the love the people have for this place. But painful because, though I am not from McDowell County, I am one of those who left. Like the filmmaker, I graduated from WVU with a B.S. in Journalism and I left. I do feel guilt sometimes but that guilt is tempered by the reminder that, at the time, a life there was not sustainable for me. Maybe it’s much different now. Maybe it never will be. I wish I could love it without reservation but I can’t forgive the damage that was done by its people, who were not kind to the freaks, the queers. I wish I felt like I could go home. I miss those mountains.

Somehow those roots get embedded in our souls and we are very connected, very connected to these mountains. And it doesn’t matter if they never come back, this will always be home and they will always always have those roots in them.