Fort Smith: A Personal Essay — by Ben Boulden

When I launched this blog almost exactly one year ago, I wanted to explore the essence of place. Today, I found an essay posted on the Fort Smith Historical Society’s website, by a man who’s work I greatly admire.

This excerpt from Ben Boulden’s work distills in a few words what place means to him. More particularly, this place we call home.

To understand how I feel about the city, you have to understand and feel the word “roots.” That word has been used so often to describe what I am talking about that it almost is threadbare. Nevertheless, it works. I feel my spirit is sunk into the earth of the Arkansas River valley. Whenever I’ve spent an extensive amount of time in another place, I start to feel disoriented, a little lost.

On returning to western Arkansas from Boston in late 1990, I stopped at Artist’s Point in the Ozarks to look at the hills. Tears came to my eyes because I recognized I was home. I looked at the maternal curves of the hills and mountains and knew that the land had made me as much as my mother and father.

Fort Smith: A Personal Essay

I’m a Fort Smith resident by choice. Arkansan by birth — and choice. My story is similar. I’ve lived outside Arkansas for 16 months, 3 weeks, and 4 days. While I grew up in Little Rock, and was born in Batesville, I’ll never forget driving to Fayetteville — headed to a brand new job that brought me back home. I was a little north of Artists Point before the tears came. I was home.

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