The Soft Goodbye
By Donelle Dreese in About Place Journal
There are still times when I feel like I am floating, not connected to any kind of where, not grounded or rooted, or having a sense of belonging. I grew up in the rural Appalachian countryside of east/central Pennsylvania. In conversation, I may identify my childhood home more by what it is near, rather than where it is. I might say, “it is about an hour north of Harrisburg,” or “it’s just east of State College.” Our postal address was Middleburg, although the actual borough of Middleburg seemed a thousand miles away when I was a child. In relation to neighboring towns, we lived in the nameless in between, in the “middle of nowhere,” in a haze of hills. I spent my days wandering fields and looking up into the ceilings of trees. I marked time through the color phases of maple leaves until they fell and blew away.
Our ranch house was surrounded by corn fields on all sides except for the dirt road at the end of our driveway and a few other houses dotted here and there. During the growing season, our house was boxed in by corn. Hidden from the rest of the world, I used to run through the green tunnels while shielding my face from the waving arms of the corn stalks. Sometimes, if I ran far enough, I would reach the end of a field that opened up into a graveyard. Read more >>