Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Going Home: Under Magnolia, by Frances Mayes

About a year after I went to graduate school, my mom confided to me that when she and my dad dropped me off at school, she knew I was never coming home. She sensed, even before I fully understood it, that my heart needed to settle on the East Coast. And no matter how often I think about going back to the Midwest, I know she's right. I will never go home.

Oh sure, I visit regularly, and enjoy keeping up with all the nutjob things the governor of my former state is doing. I'm the first to defend my beloved Kansas when called upon, and I cheer desperately for my the Royals - who have brought me a lot of joy both over the years and in the past few months. (With a lot of heartache as well, naturally.) I am still mad at the Arlington County Public School Superintendent who made a stupid comment about "flyover states" at the one board meeting I attended in person. He had to have known there was a decent change someone from one of those states would be in attendance. Arlington is full of transient people.

But I will agree with Frances Mayes - that the home one grows up in imprints itself somewhere deep in your soul. Although I've lived in the DC area for almost 20 years, I still think of myself as a tourist here. It shocks me when I consider that my children have only known this as home. So while I place sunflowers, meadowlarks, and lightening at the core of my growing up - I'm guessing my children will place cherry blossoms, the white house lawn, and magnolia trees at their core. Shocking, in a way.

I do, occasionally, think romantically about going home. I could live in a more liberal, nearby town than the one I grew up in. I could head out front door and run for miles without seeing another person, if I chose a house on the outskirts of that town. And my kids could grow up near both my sister's family and my parents.

Frances Mayes' Under Magnolia was a lovely reminder about the permanence of the place I grew up.


I received a copy of Under Magnolia as a member of the From Left To Write online book club.


  1. I couldn't wait to leave my hometown. Like you, I feel more at home on the more liberal East Coast.

  2. I <3 this post! :] I grew up in an area that was much more liberal, but have been in much more conservative areas for the past couple years. Although people are very nice to me here, I don't know if I could ever truly call it home.

  3. I don't think I could move back to the town I grew up in. While it would be nice to once again live someplace where I knew everyone, the opportunities are limited (as are the restaurant choices). But I still unintentionally refer to that place as "home", despite not living there for 20+ years, and it irks my husband to no end!