After reading Shane Claiborne‘s Irresistible Revolution in which Claiborne calls himself a “recovering redneck,” I am very dear to the fact that I, myself am mending my own redneck ways. I used to drive a big, loud truck, wore the occasional camouflage, and could hang with the best in the category of “best southern accent.” Although these things are part of my geography and heritage of which I am semi-proud, I have tried my hardest to be myself in a culture where “branching out” means trimming the limbs off a tree so you can have a better view from the deer stand. The last few year I have been standing on tetter-totter between redneck and normal; between v-necks and wranglers; boots and Toms; ain’t and is not. Do not get me wrong: I have lots of friends who are rednecks and I love them the same, but usually the title redneck portrays a cookie-cutter identity that is more a cover than an actual expression of who the person is; a way to fit in when often the Wranglers are just too tight (subtle redneck joke #1).
Although I have made leaps and bounds on my journey to recovery, this last week has made me rethink how much I have actually progressed. I moved to Durham last Wednesday, thinking I was prepared to move to the big city from a very small town, my home, Newton Grove, NC. I was very wrong. After putting my shopping cart in the wrong lane at Harris Tetter, I felt a sudden anxiety that I was in over my head. Then it got worse. My wife, Camille, and I have done quite a bit of adventuring since we arrived in Durham. Along the way I have noticed how hard it is to get used to stop lights when you grow up in a town that has none, and you do your undergrad at a place that really only has one. Yeah, I have almost ran six or seven stop lights because I simply do not notice them. I can haul heavy machinery, navigate large trucks, and back long trailers into narrow spaces, but I obviously cannot tell the difference between the two basic colors of red and green.
This may be the first time in my life I have felt like the outsider. Whether it is my naïve ways, my “innocence”, as Camille calls it, or simply my redneck self looking for attention, Durham still feels like some foreign place in a dream from which I havent yet awoken.
Maybe the answer is to embrace my Redneckness. Maybe time will heal all shotgun wounds (subtle redneck joke #2). Who knows? Either way, I am here for the next two years. So Durham, watch out, this redneck is here to stay.