Whit’s End: Where’s my home?
I’ve been listening to the Alabama Shakes a lot lately. It’s not just because the band’s from my home state, although that’s surely a factor. Their debut album, “Boys and Girls,” simply sounds like summer. It’s the perfect soundtrack for a long drive through rural Colorado.
Friends and I cranked the album during a recent trip to Slow Groovin’ in Marble. We were a car full of Southerners — Alabama, Mississippi and Florida (yes, parts of Florida count) — who have declared Colorado home. Music transcends time and place, but there’s also something to be said for music that sounds like your place of origin.
“I wake up
Rise to the sun
I go to work
And I come back home”
We hurtled down Colorado 133, pointed toward the food of our people, as Brittany Howard belted out “Rise to the Sun.” The song is one of my favorites on the album, mostly because it leaves me craving sun salutations. This time, a different verse struck me.
Colorado felt almost like home immediately, in large part because I slipped right into life alongside my best friend and an established friend group. Work has been a natural fit. I’ve only this week moved into my own apartment, but I’ve been in the area long enough to know my neighborhood suits me well.
I haven’t missed Alabama yet.
But as Brittany lamented the sometimes-confusing nature of home, I related.
“I feel so homesick
Where’s my home
Where I belong
Where I was born
I was told to go
Where the wind would blow
And it blows away — away”
Many native Coloradans take pride in their relationship to this place, and I understand that. It’s a beautiful land, and I think there’s something special about the place where you were born. And of course, there are myriad complications that have risen from the state’s influx of new people.
But as for me, I’d love a Colorado license plate-style sticker that proudly declares TRANSPLANT. I am unmistakably of Alabama; with a name like Carla Jean, a grandfather in the Alabama Auto Racing Pioneers Hall of Fame and an accent like this, no one mistakes me for a native. The years I spent in Alabama and Florida shaped me.
And they shaped me into a woman who chose adventure, who chose to move across the country at age 35 in the hope of experiencing something new.
Alabama will always be home. But maybe there’s more than one place I can hold in my heart.
Carla Jean Whitley’s family is sometimes sad she doesn’t wax poetic about Florida, where they live. Sorry, Mom and Dad! Home is also where your family is. You can reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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