This retrospective on a multigenerational farm family calls upon the author’s life experiences to describe the microcosm of a local rural culture. The author uses narrative to consider sense of place and the impact it exerts on native-born locals. Considering the nonmigration of an extended family of third-generation rural cousins who live and farm within 25 miles of land belonging to the family for more than a hundred years, the story contrasts local and cosmopolitan values, raises issues about attempts to “leave home,” describes the tension created when rurals try to become part of both worlds, and examines the stranglehold of primary attachments in the rural South. The author develops the theme that education, critical thought, can facilitate the struggles to maintain the primacy of place while successfully connecting to the cosmopolitan world. This balancing act, described as ruralibrium, requires the recognition of the “goods” in both worlds--the liberal, loosely controlled, urban, academic, cosmopolitan milieu and the conservative, controlled, “practical,” rural community that exerts its pull through strong primary attachments. It is the mastery of this ruralibrium dance that allows the rural to leave home, and return safely.

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