Right now, I’m posting from a town known as “The Heart of . . . ” — well, a larger geographical area. Smaller than Asia, bigger than New Jersey. (Does New Jersey have a “heart”?)
It’s rare for me to be in a “heart”. It started me thinking what that does to a town, to be known as the central pulsing organ of a larger place.
For one thing, it calls for chutzpah. Not every set of town officials has the nerve to say, “Where we live is THAT important”.
Nor is it often true. If true, it’s sometimes temporary. Richmond, Virginia, likes to boast that it’s the heart of the Confederate States of America (CSA) — and for some years it was the capital city. Richmond was preceded by Montgomery, Alabama, however, and followed (for seven days as CSA capital) by Danville, Virginia, just over the state line from North Carolina.
If you went looking for the geographic heart of the former Confederacy, you’d have to look farther south and much farther west, since lands west of Texas (parts of what are now New Mexico and Arizona) were claimed by the Confederacy as its own.
So simply having the guts to call one’s town the “heart” of its surroundings isn’t enough. The designation has to hold up historically.
Then there’s the emotional factor. A “heart” must be a place people in the surrounding area rely on and look up to. When it’s damaged, people grieve. When the news is good, they rejoice. The investment they make is more than geographic, and different from the economic. It’s from the heart to the “heart”.
No wonder they feel betrayed by a “heart” that becomes ruthless.
I haven’t been here long enough to learn whether the “heart” I’m in possesses that sort of emotional investment by people who live here and in the encircling communities. But I’d love to find out.
If it does, seems to me it’s entitled to call itself a genuine heart.