Dual Citizen

Jun 3, 2012 by

Dual Citizen

I have a passport to another country.  It’s not any of the ones you are thinking.  It’s a land of fields and grass, oak and maple, cows and sheep.  A place where time doesn’t move slower, life isn’t any easier, in fact it’s a lot tougher, but that makes it just as sweet.  It tastes like buckwheat cakes and sausage with real maple syrup or pepperoni rolls.  Every now and then I yearn for that country of my birth.  The sounds of crickets, birds and coal trains rolling through some small mountain towns, a coyote howl.  The smell of clover and grass, a little manure.  The scent of a forest- it smells clean and dark, damp in a way that is more than refreshing.  My passport?  I grew up on a farm in the country in Western Maryland.  Summer in Western Maryland is heaven.  Between the green lushness of the farms, the animals- domestic and wild, the state parks that smell like years of old growth.  The lakes and rivers that you slide into, cool and refreshing.  Being there this time of year I ache to be back in Garrett County for one heavenly summer like when I was younger on our farm, and out on a boat on Deep Creek Lake.  Jumping in someone’s truck to go to the movies and getting a blizzard at the Custard Stand (RIP Custard Stand).

While growing up I always wanted to be cosmopolitan.  Cool clothes, hip hop music, and I tried as best I could to not have a country accent.  I never appreciated that I could milk cows, ride a horse, swing my leg over a barb wire fence without a scratch.  I used to ride four wheelers with my Dad, Brother In Law and Niece.  We rode over the land, wind our hair, smelling the country air.  There were hazards- mud, or worse, flying up on your jeans, bugs in your eyes or mouth.  But hearing the stories of who owned the land, the families it past through and their triumphs and hardships, it inextricably bound you to it.

I go home to my Sister and Brother In Laws house and I just sit looking over the fields, down to where the barn is, where the tree stand is down on the edge of the swamp where we used to play.  I hear the sounds, my sisters accent, the train, the crickets.  You can actually see the stars.  Not just some stars.  You can see what seems like all the stars.  And I can feel the air the way it is slightly heavier like you are breathing in part of the earth and then exhaling it.  We four wheel and for a brief moment in time I feel like I am ten and still live in the country.  Today, I can still ride a horse, climb a fence, shoot a bow and milk a cow.  But in a way I have lost my country and want so desperately to have any little part of it back.  Driving back down the mountain into the traffic, I merge back into my cosmopolitan life, mostly it’s everything I want- restaurants, events, museums, people.  But a part of me yearns for my home.

To me I live in two separate countries, divided by Mountains.  They are so absolutely different.  The people in the city could never imagine that I ever grew up on a beef farm, wearing cowgirl boots and overalls.  That I know what muddin is and have proudly been to a mud bog, demolition derby and tractor pool.  I was even a member of 4H.  People in the country can’t believe I don’t remember Don’s daughter, the one who babysat me for a summer and then grew up and married John- looking at me knowing I have lost some of the stories, some of the heritage, some of the land I was inextricably bound to, but not being able to fathom how or why that could happen.  Why I let it go.  I didn’t know then that it was special.  And maybe for some people like me, until you leave you never do, and if I stayed I would have kept on running from it, wanting to be a cosmopolitan woman.  It felt like so much more to me to make it in the city.  But there is something about the country that you will never know or understand until you live there.  You might get a small taste and feel, think it’s quaint and cute and beautiful country, but you will never understand it unless you truly live it.  And outsider just can’t understand.  And I do.  Which is why they let me keep my passport.  I can still walk into Dottie’s and I don’t get a menu.  I still know exactly what’s on the menu.

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1 Comment

  1. Suzanne

    I’ve thought about this post so much–esp. yesterday when I got an unexplainable craving for an grilled ham and cheese sandwich with tomato from the OakMar. I laughed at myself a bit, because, really? What is so unique about a grilled ham and cheese sandwich with a slice of tomato? Why couldn’t I satisfy that craving in my own kitchen or some other diner near my home in Baltimore? But I knew that nothing here could satisfy like their own perfect blend of crisp, heavily buttered white bread with REAL ham and fake yellow cheese and a thin slice of deep red tomato with chips that taste a little like the dill pickle they share the plate with.

    It also made me think about the other excrutiatingly normal things that I will forever associate with specific times and places in Garrett County. All-you-can-eat spaghetti nights at smokey El Lobos in Mtn. Lake Park and their pinball machine. Sitting in my booster seat, staring across an endless sea of Neopolitan pizza at Dominic’s. Finding a french fry in my fettucini alfredo at McClives–and always wishing french fries came with alfredo sauce and vise versa ever since (that was the black dress poetry reading night—ok, ok, maybe not all of these things are “normal.”) [sorry for only thinking of food references right now. I’m hungry.]

    But I love that this post celebrates these memories we share so eloquently.It really does feel like another country and it does feel like it’s slipping away from me. It’s a place that I feel so privileged to have grown up in and known so intimately. Like you, I really love where I live now and cherish every opportunity to “go home” no matter which destination I’m referring to. Thanks for this beautiful post.

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