The first stop after leaving home for the foreseeable future, was to attend the first meeting for the STAY Steering Committee at the Highlander Center in New Market Tennessee. The contradiction of leaving my home to be a part of a group of young people that are making a commitment to stay and help others stay and thrive in Appalachia is not lost on me. But in that space at Highlander with all those amazing and inspiring humans I felt more comfortable inhabiting the push and the pull.
Turns out it is possible to concurrently hold two opposing truths in my heart. I suppose the structure of my anatomy functions best between the dichotomy of stay and go. Stay because this is my home, because I want Eli, Heron and Alder to know their home, because Appalachian Love Stories, because I am committed to social and environmental justice in Appalachia. Go because I have to, because I told myself I would, because I'm curious, because by experiencing different geographies I will have a better understanding of the work that needs to be done in Appalachia, because I won't be able to stay if I don't leave first, because nothing is final, because there is opportunity waiting. Go because I know all the way down in my bones that I will always return here, I am of this geography, these mountains, they are my home. Stay because I want to.
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