Casting: driving from home, to home

We head for home in approximately ten hours. I have been here since one a.m. on Saturday morning, and I’ve come away with the same feeling that I always have when I visit here: Tull is my home in a way that no place else can ever be, but the chances of my ever living here again are very, very small.

There is no other place in this world that holds the memories—both good and bad—that Tull holds for me. Here, I am surrounded by my past in ways that few people ever are: a town named for my family; my forebears in the churchyard, my very street address named after my great-grandfather.Is it so much of a dichotomy to need to visit a place, to have it ingrained in your memories and your outlook, but to have an equal need to live elsewhere? Distance brings clarity, happiness, understanding. I find that I love this town more when I do not live here, and find myself restless after being here for more than three days.

The stars have incredible, almost painful, clarity here. Get out of your truck after a late-night visit to a friend, and the moonlight will be strong enough that at midnight, you will still cast a shadow. Stand still for more than a moment and the insect-and-bird chorus resumes; your human sounds get swallowed amidst their din.

I love it here, for a simpler and quieter way of life which I think is fast disappearing. My father tells me that some ‘outsiders’ are moving in and building enormous houses here. A better road has invited more people in. The way of life that my grandparents knew here is almost gone. My parents, of a different generation, still bemoan the changes.

I have to believe that the Tull that my nephew will experience will be far more different still.

To him I will be the faraway member of the family. The one he doesn’t know much about. I hope that someday, sometime, I can explain to him that while I loved the place of my childhood in a way that most people will never comprehend, that I had to go away to preserve that love. By going away, I chose my priorities: art, travel, music, ‘culture.’ The tradeoffs were higher mortgages and anonymity.

I visited tonight with Tara, who was probably my best friend in high school. Her stories of ‘the locals’ remind me of the seamier side of the society I left behind: the soap operas, the backbiting, the social inbreeding that occurs in a closed society. The end result of her storytelling was my realization that I had to leave when I did.

By leaving, I preserved my love for a place unlike any other.

My mother puts all my postcards on the fridge. It reminds me that in my own small way, I’m gradually seeing the world—one of my fondest dreams while growing up in a quiet little place called Tull, Arkansas.

Home soon. It’s time. Merry Christmas to you, reader.