The Daily Tar Heel
Printing news. Raising hell. Since 1893.
Monday, April 22, 2024 Newsletters Latest print issue

We keep you informed.

Help us keep going. Donate Today.
The Daily Tar Heel

State of Mind Reflects Home In Mountains

I grew up hearing crickets every morning.

There is not a student at this university who can say he or she has never missed home. Sure, some people miss it more than others, but anyone who completely denies homesickness is not to be trusted. It's a condition shared by everyone at some point -- those pangs that say "To hell with adulthood! I just want to go home."

I was born and raised in western North Carolina -- grew up with the ridges, valleys and the unique lifestyle of the Blue Ridge Mountains.

And I still get homesick.

Sometimes it seems that mountain kids have a harder time adjusting -- we miss home more than others and perhaps take longer to learn the steps in the UNC song-and-dance. (Wait. So we take the shirt off? Then swing it round our head like a ... what?)

I've found that kids from Wilmington or near the coast miss the water the same way western North Carolinians miss the mountains -- each has dramatic, beautiful geography that deeply affects the way folks live. Of course, western North Carolina is indisputably the sparkling jewel in the state crown. (Hear that, Charlotte?)

There seems to be a certain mountain mentality that is different from the rest of the state. It feels practically like being from outside the state.

We're certainly not all Davie Crockett-style "kings of the wild frontier," but there is something unique in them thar hills. It's a big reason why students from western North Carolina sometimes feel like freshwater fish in a saltwater ocean (I'd probably be a guppy). The mountains afford a different perspective on life that can sometimes be at odds with the UNC style.

I asked my friend Sunil, who is from Raleigh but is surrounded by kids from Asheville, what makes mountain folks different. "They seem less worried about unimportant stuff," he said, "and genuinely less concerned about what other people think."

Indeed, the characteristics of mountain folk extend far beyond the outhouse-using, moonshine-distilling, possum-eating, pot-smoking stereotypes we all know and ignore.

There is a fantastic cult classic movie called "Harold and Maude" that describes some of the facets of life as being "incidental but not integral." That is a big part of the mountain mentality -- there's a firm grasp of what is incidental and what is and what isn't worth worrying about. It's a slightly different set of priorities than is apparent on campus.

I don't speak for all of us, but mountain kids seem to have a different idea of success than is common round these parts -- less about the r

To get the day's news and headlines in your inbox each morning, sign up for our email newsletters.

Special Print Edition
The Daily Tar Heel's Collaborative Mental Health Edition