Return to the Bloody Hunting Ground

by The Teeth

It’s difficult to determine if my trip back to New England had a central theme or lesson. Several witnesses of wildly differing backgrounds told me that I would need a vacation from this vacation, and while that may be true, the devil is in the details. I tried to make an odyssey out of a week’s time, and in doing so I forced myself into some kind of deranged kamikaze exercise. Looking back on it, from the familiar setting of my desk at home, it is hard to believe everything happened so quickly.

I could recount a tale of debauchery and irresponsible behavior. There was plenty of it going around, but I don’t think it would make a very interesting story from an outside perspective. Neither will I tell you a heartwarming recollection of family and friends long removed. While these things were meaningful to me, I chalk them up to be about as interesting as photographs of other people’s children and food.

The only thing worth sharing, in my mind at least, is what happened to me internally. I feel weighty reflecting on the past week. I acted recklessly through the entire week, but that was easy to shrug off. I’m used to running myself ragged. Something else was grinding on me, and it took a variety of social encounters to hone in on it.

It is important to say, I think, that people in the northeast have a generally negative view of southerners. Particularly younger people, and especially those who cannot easily point out Kentucky on a map. When telling somebody that I actually live in Louisville, I often receive incendiary replies such as “I’m sorry,” and “Why?” The occasional gullible sort can be convinced that I hunt alligators through some carboniferous swampland, accompanied only by my thoughts and a horse proudly wearing the confederate flag.

Maybe I wasn’t explaining myself well enough. Could the population here really retain so much prejudice? The pretentious attitude seemed to prevail everywhere I went, and even in places like Manchester, New Hampshire, home of the country’s longest dead-end street. I see it as absolute hypocrisy, considering I have never once heard one of my neighbors in Louisville harbor any northern resentment. We’re all pretty much over the civil war here, folks.

Unable to shake the frustration, I found some solace in a visit with my Grandfather. He is a well-respected individual, someone who has traveled the world over, and a life-long resident of New England. I don’t have much contact with the paternal side of my family, but he has never allowed me to be cast from the flock completely. When I speak of Kentucky, he listens with a curious joy. For the first time since I arrived, I didn’t need to defend how much I enjoy my new home. I told him of the pleasantries which define southern culture. “It used to be like that here,” he said. “But not anymore, you just don’t see it.” Putting aside a reminiscent attitude, he was giving me a view which reached into the better part of a century.

It is no revelation that people become jaded when they forget to enjoy themselves. They may actually forget how to enjoy the pleasures of life, if they stray too far from the path. And I think it happens more in the northeast because the people tend to work themselves to death. I know that living up there taught me about things like work ethic and the brutal grind. I don’t believe it’s a coincidence that once I moved out here, I finally learned to relax. Nobody taught that skill to me; I earned it.