Native Son: A Transitory Journey to the Kentucky I Call Home

I call myself a native son of Kentucky. I came here by way of Connecticut, Georgia, and Indiana but my roots run deep in this soil. I should know, I laid them there. I moved here to attend school at the University of Kentucky three years ago. My parents forced me to transfer from my previous school and random chance and cosmic guidance led me to pack my bags and drive to Lexington. I had only driven through Kentucky when I made the decision to start my life over at UK. The minute my tires crossed into the city limits I knew I was home.

The closest thing to a feeling of home I felt before moving to Kentucky was found in a large oak tree in my parents’ backyard. Its sturdy branches nurtured me through my angst-filled teenage years and was a physical place of solace when times got tough. In it I revealed my deepest secrets beneath the soft Georgian skies and dreamed for the day when I would have a life of my own. In the way that I did not yet know much about myself, I did not know a place called home outside of that tree. Time passed, the tree and I both grew older, and I left for college  – but still I wandered. I wandered my way through my freshman year of music school and was given the chance to move to Kentucky in a crap shoot for something better. I took it and I have never looked back.

It is in the many beautiful things about Kentucky that I found a nurturing environment for me to develop into a confident young man. It is in the activist communities that brought me to leadership and the local businesses that instill a sense of community pride and responsibility in Lexington. It is in the strong citizenry that shows me how to be a better person and to base success on social change instead of getting ahead. It is in the songs that flow out of the mouths and fiddles of Kentuckians that speak more truly than mere words ever could. It is in the friends I have made who quickly, and permanently, became family. These things are only a few pieces of my Kentucky but they form the framework of the land that allowed me to grow into a proud son of the Commonwealth.

Looking back, I can see that I had to find a way to feel at home in a place so that I could eventually feel at home in my physical body. I moved here as a lesbian-identified nineteen-year-old and have since blossomed into a twenty-one-year-old transgender man. I consider my ability to transition from female to son of the bluegrass to be one of the greatest gifts that has been given to me and one that is made uniquely beautiful in this place. Because of this, the reason I call myself a native son is much bigger than the connection I feel to this land. Though the rolling hills sing to my soul and the history of the Bluegrass runs in my veins my story is more than just a spiritual homecoming of a born-again Kentuckian. My story is that of a young man who got to start his life over in the land made for his soul – a humble person who found himself and his home in the bluegrass.

As I near graduation from the University of Kentucky I can finally see all that Kentucky has given me. I am eternally grateful for the family I have found and the land I call my own. Here I have been transformed into a confident and passionate young person looking to create social change in the land that I love. I wish to stay in Kentucky as long as life will allow me to do so. Despite this, the strength I have found in myself because of my connection to this place will enable me to thrive wherever I go. I do not know where my life will take me but I know that my heart will always call Kentucky home.

——

This essay was a finalist in the 2010 Bluegrass Literacy Writing Competition. To learn more about Bluegrass Literacy, visit them at http://www.bluegrassliteracy.org/

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