“The people [here] all have a certain character about them, and they all care for each other. We have a certain way of life that other people don’t.”
Brianna Claxon, Age 17, High School Senior; Greenup, Kentucky:
“I just used to play outside, but now that I’m older I don’t really stay in town a lot. If I go somewhere, I go to Ashland or over in Portsmouth. There’s nothing to do downtown, so you have to go either in Ohio, or up in Ashland.
I want to go to college. [Maybe] Lexington, to major in Psychology. I’ll probably move away after college, but I think when I’m older, I’ll come back.
The people [here], they all have a certain character about them, and they all care for each other. But I think there’s definitely more to that. We have a certain way of life that other people don’t.
Every area has a certain stereotype about them, and ours is just that we’re hillbillies, or rednecks, or whatever. Most everyone that lives here is not that way at all. We’re just normal, average people. We go to school. We drive nice cars. It’s not this super backwoods way of life that everyone seems to think.
Most of my friends want to go away, but if they actually have the guts to go out on their own, I don’t know. Our class is divided into two. They have kind of like the rednecks, and most of them want to go work at AK Steel, Marathon, and stuff like that. But to get an education, you have to go somewhere else. There are no colleges around here that have programs to go through for stuff like that.
I’m really, really close to my grandma. She always let me help her cook, and then we would paint and stuff. Just talk. Watch TV. [She’s a good cook, but] my Papaw’s better. He’ll make a regular beef stew, and he’ll put like all these random spices in it. It makes it spicy, and my aunt and me love it. My Grandma hates it, and she won’t eat anything he cooks because he makes it so spicy.
My Grandma and Mom both, they like to dress up, and just be stupid. They’ll put on dumb wigs, just act like certain people. They do that a lot. They’ll just do it around the house. Mom tries to [go out] but we have to stop her. (Laughs) I think everyone likes my Mom better than me. All my friends are like, ‘How’s your Mom? Where’s your Mom? How come you didn’t bring your Mom with you?’
The past few years, I feel like it’s been really hard on her with the divorce and all that. She pushed through it, and you can’t even really tell it bothered her. From the outside point of view, you just thought everything was fine. She stayed strong through it all, especially for my little brothers and me.
Every day is a funny brother story. One time they were outside the house, and we have sliding doors. I was walking by the door and they’re outside shooting bows and arrows. I walked by and a bow and arrow hit the glass, and it shattered the whole door. One of them did it with a bow and arrow [and] two months later, the other one did it with a BB gun. They’re twins [and] they’re totally different. Trace acts like he’s an old man, and he knows everything about history, and war, and all that. Most of the time in public, Chase is super quiet, but then when we’re at home he’s more of the troublemaker. They gang up on me all the time. Most of the time, I can get one of them to be one my side, but once the other one realizes that one’s on my side, he gets mad, and so they both gang up on me. That’s just an everyday thing. It’s always me against them.
I was four when they were born, but I guess it didn’t really hit me because they couldn’t talk or anything. For all those years, it had always been me, and then the boys got all the attention and I hated it. I don’t ever remember us having a bond until I was in the fourth or fifth grade, and they were starting Kindergarten or first grade. We started becoming closer, but now I feel like we’re super, super close.
My parents’ divorce was [the most difficult time in my life], because it’s just like everything happened at once. My Dad was in a motorcycle wreck two months before they got divorced, and he was life-flighted. It was terrible, and then at the same time, all this stuff started coming out, and they got a divorce. It was just a lot to take in at once. Plus, school at that time was super hard, we were taking the ACT and it was just all happening.
[Happiest time?] This summer was fun. My friends and me went kayaking, canoeing, hiking, that kind of stuff. I love reading. Reading’s my favorite. I like the John Green books, and then everyone was like, ‘you have to read ‘Harry Potter,’ it’s the best. And I was like, ‘No, that’s not my thing. I don’t want to read about dumb wizards and stuff.’ I read all seven books in a week and a half, and I loved it.
I love being outside, unless it’s like super, super hot. I like hanging out with my friends. When I go with my friends, we always go over in Ohio, and go laser tagging.
I like going to car shows. [My favorite car is a] ‘67 Fastback Mustang. I like fast cars. [Getting my own Mustang] was like a dream come true. I got it for my birthday last year. It used to be one of my friend’s, and my Mom and Dad, I was like, ‘Please go look at it.’ They looked at it and they came home, and they were like, ‘No. No. I didn’t like it.’ I was like; ‘Well I don’t need a car anyway, since I can’t drive all by myself for another six months after I get my permit.’
It was two days before the Fourth of July. My birthday’s on the seventh, and my little brothers came home that night, ‘Brianna, listen! You’re having a surprise birthday party on the fourth.’ I was like, ‘What? Why’d you tell me?” They’re like, ‘You can’t tell Mom that we told you.’ And so I was like, okay. Surprise. Then, the boys were like, ‘Brianna, we got to tell you something else. They got you that Mustang.’ I was like, ‘Why did you tell me that?’ (Laughs) But they told me, [and for] two days, I had to do a big fake thing. When the car pulled up I was like, ‘Oh, my gosh!’ I didn’t tell Mom I knew about it until about a month ago. It’s a regular 2006 Mustang. I hope when I go to college I can get a GT, or something.
I play volleyball, and I would just love to win a District Championship and a Regional Championship to leave behind a legacy for everyone else to follow. My three best friends, we’re all seniors, and we’ve been together since sixth grade, so I would love to go out with a big bang. Our volleyball team, we’ve never done anything huge, so I’d like to see it happen this year.
I hope people remember that I love to laugh, and I like other people to laugh. So I hope everybody is like, ‘Oh wow, she was really funny,’ or ‘Oh, she always loved to laugh.’
I’ve been to a lot of places. I’ve been to Canada. Last summer we went to Iowa, and I was dreading it. I was like, ‘What is in Iowa?’ It was a thirteen, fourteen hour drive, and then you get to a spot where there’s absolutely nothing, and you start seeing big windmills that you’d seen on TV, and you don’t ever think they’re that huge, and I loved it. We went to Des Moines, and it was absolutely beautiful. It was one of my favorite places I’ve ever been. Flat, but it was gorgeous. Charlotte, North Carolina’s my favorite. [We went to the] NASCAR Hall of Fame. My Mamaw and Grandpa took me to my first NASCAR race in Charlotte, and I think we’ve gone like three times. [My driver is] Jimmy Johnson. (Laughs).
I always love coming back home. I don’t think there’s anything like sleeping in your own bed.”