Going Down to St. Francisville

Erik Kain

Erik writes about video games at Forbes and politics at Mother Jones. He's the contributor of The League though he hasn't written much here lately. He can be found occasionally composing 140 character cultural analysis on Twitter.

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17 Responses

  1. dexter says:

    Eric, your post comes under the small world catagory.  I knew that Rod’s name rang a bell and now I remember him  While I am sure Rod has forgotten,  I seem to remember a long conversation with him on Smiley’s  front porch bitching about his obit  on Abby Hoffman.  Please correct me if my memory is wrong.  If I am right Rod will know who Smiley is.  Plus, there are many places in the world that are not near as pleasant as St.Francisville.  For a small southern town,  the people are well educated and much less racist than average.  And it has enough history to make Faulkner jealous.Report

    • Trumwill in reply to dexter says:

      Small world indeed. I won’t get into the specifics, but I have a vague connection to the subject-matter as well. On three points, actually, one involving EDK (which he knows) and a couple with Dreher.Report

  2. James Hanley says:


    This is a fantastic piece.  I pre-emptively nominate it for inclusion in the anthology.  That is to say, it really struck home for me emotionally, and I intuitively got it–felt it–even though my youth was nothing like yours.  My first memories are of the house that I grew up in until I was old enough to leave.  I went to the local (small) school with the same people, from K through 12.  I went to the same church with the same people for the entire time.

    But it was a small town, and I felt the restlessness, too.  I was a reasonably bright kid who went through some real struggles in college, too. (And lord, I see students like you and me all the time, and desperately want to help them, but whatever it takes to get the likes of us over that hump seems to be beyond the power of a prof.)

    And I get what you mean about community.  When I lived in San Francisco, I made a group of friends–almost all of whom I’ve lost contact with–who took care of each other.  When I needed a couch to sleep on, plenty were available.  When either my roommate or I ran out of cash before payday, the other bought dinner.  None of us had family around, so we made our own–albeit sadly temporary–family.

    Place does matter, indeed.  Often when I see a homeless person, my first thought is, “How is that you don’t have anyone to whom you can turn?  How is it that you have no place in this world?”

    Don’t fret over whether you love your place out of love or fear–just love it.  You don’t need to move somewhere else to prove it’s not fear.  Travel when you can, and enjoy it both for knowing that you can move around beyond your place, and for knowing that you can return to your place.Report

    • E.D. Kain in reply to James Hanley says:

      Travel sounds nice. I’m hoping that now – working from home – I’ll be able to travel more with my family and work from the road. We’ll see, though…Report

      • James Hanley in reply to E.D. Kain says:

        Travel cheap.  Go by car, stay in KOA Kampgrounds or inexpensive motels with lousy continental breakfasts. Eat PB&J sandwiches for lunch. Cook dinner on a campstove. Go to little out of the way museums.  Either drive without a destination, or plan ahead to look for oddities along the way. Everything’s new to kids, so everything you see is a great big wonderful astonishing world to them (unless you always stay in upscale hotels, then everything else is boring to them and they’ll be miserable whenever they’re not camped in front of a TV or computer). Plan to stop every 2-3 hours so they can run–if you can’t find something amusing to stop and visit, hit a local park, have a picnic lunch, and let them run and play ’til they wear out.

        My parents did three great things for me: Traveled, bought us books, assumed we’d get an education. (And my conservative mother still wonders how we all turned out so liberal!)Report

  3. Tod Kelly says:

    FWIW, this is my favorite post here by you. Wonderful.Report

  4. Wonderful post.

    I can relate to many of the sentiments expressed.  I was raised in the same town from birth until I left for college, and one thing that became clear when I visited recently is how far from home it is now.

    There is something deeply meaningful about belonging somewhere, and about being known.  I’ve lived in lots of places.  Not to become unforgivably pretentious, but some of them had a sense of place that almost felt like a genius loci.  (This includes Manhattan, FWIW.)  There have been many that simply felt like a random assortment of homes and businesses, with nothing to bind them.  I am blessed to live now in a place that seems to know itself, and it is tremendous comfort to feel as though I have a place within it.Report

  5. Jaybird says:

    When Maribou and I talk about “what would we do if we won powerball”, one thing she always talks about is how we wouldn’t move. Our tribe is here. The babies we bought little storybooks for who grew up to be little boys that needed their own copies of Frampton Comes Alive and will soon be boys who need Spider-Man and X-Men comic book compilations before they become teenagers who don’t really need anything from fake aunts/uncles anymore… before they become young men who do.

    I make jokes about moving far, far away… but my tribe is here.

    (I might get a deeper basement, though.)Report

  6. Shawn Gude says:

    Beautifully written, Erik—great post.


  7. Michelle says:

    A wonderful post about a topic that has very much occupied my mind over the last few months as we contemplated a return to from the Seattle area to Los Angeles for my husband’s job (an idea I fought tooth and nail–having gone to Hell A unwillingly once, there was no way I was going back). We finally ended up in the greater Philadelphia area for a new opportunity. I’d lived in Rochester, NY for 15 years before I met my husband and part of my heart still considers it home. But, in the 14 or  so years we’ve been together, I’ve gone from Chicago to LA (bad move) to Seattle to now here. It is a nomad’s life and doesn’t suit me well. There is something to setting down roots and building a community of friends and family that cannot be accomplished when you’re either constantly on the move or living somewhere that, for whatever reason, does not resonate as “home” to you.

    At any rate, a very evocative piece about a topic that deserves further exploration.Report

  8. You seem to confirm my theory that the best approach to education is as many different approaches as possible.Report