Saturday, June 18, 2011

Home

Jean got me thinking with her comment on the previous post. I started to answer her below but my answer kept going and going. I figured I’d share it here instead.


<< And I've adopted a small town in Central Texas as my home, but as far as the residents are concerned, I'm not from there, and neither was any of my family, so I live here, but I'll never, in their eyes, live here. >>

Ooooh man, I can so relate.

Let me go back to 1985. I had just graduated HS when my parents moved to a small town in FL. Literally I went from major shopping centers and mass transit to cows in a pasture outside my front door. Okay, the field was across a very narrow road...but still. You get my point, right?

I was the girl with the funny accent. Whenever I went on a job hunt, it was my New York pronunciation they noticed first.

It took a while but I did finally get a job. At McDonalds. Yeah. I was the grease and garbage girl.

Oh and the social quirks. In NY, I grew up in an Italian/Irish community. (Roman Catholics were everywhere.) We tended to hug when we greeted someone we hadn’t seen in a while and used our hands when we talked. This was so not the norm in rural FL. Up in NY guys and girls hung out as a group many times. As friends. No big deal. In that small town...I got labeled because I talked to guys. (Again, this might’ve had to do my NY accent. It got me into lots of trouble.) Whatever it was rumors spread like wildfire. Even some of my so called friends would make vicious jokes about me in front of boys at college.

I learned the difference between being alone and lonely.

There were many times I was accused of being a snob or rude because I didn't acknowledge someone. Most times it was because of my eye problem. (oddly, many people in NY didn't mind asking me about my eye disorder. Down in FL they didn't come out and ask. Perhaps they thought it was rude?) But I have to admit there were times I didn't acknowledge someone because I was too shy or leery.

There were some great times though. They were hilarious. Poignant. And sometimes they were sad. I met people from different walks of life that I would never have met in NY. I’ve learned sometimes you have to appreciate the folks around you now. They might not be your best friends but they might teach you something. I learned to appreciate a quieter life. And for the first time I was able to see the brilliant glow of the stars at night because there were no city lights to make them dimmer.

Here’s the part you’ll find really odd, Jean. To this day, when I talk about my years of living in FL, I describe them as the best and worst days of my life. I was born and raised in NY, but I had to grow up in all new ways down south. When I stumbled and made mistakes—they were huge. But when I think of home, that little town in Florida comes to mind before NY. It’s weird. But like you Jean, I will never be a real part of that town. I wasn’t born there. My family has almost all died out now. A few people there might remember me but…most likely they won’t.

I’ve been thinking, Jean, maybe home isn’t some place we can go back to all the time. Maybe it’s the place that forced us to grow. It’s the place that holds the most memories for us. The good and the bad.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Homesick

Don't get me wrong here, Colorado does have some perks. In just 45 min I can drive to the countryside. The snow covered mountains are amazing. The rushing creeks and rivers are a beautiful sight and comforting to listen to.

Where my house is located it reminds me of NY where I grew up. I have no worries about how to get some place. Buses. Trains. Strip malls are in walking distance if I need to. And shopping. I swear I think besides skiing, shopping must be another major sport here.

And I have two of the best bookstores only a bus ride away.

BUT

(you guys knew there was a but coming)

I've never felt at home here.

Maybe I'm getting old--cough--and I'm feeling nostalgic for things and people long gone. Maybe it's because I've never made real connections here. Or maybe it's that I've been here for ten years now, and it's time to move on.

The other morning I dreamt I was walking on a beach. I woke up and for a fleeting moment I thought I smelled salt water and seaweed. I know they were memories from my days in FL and NY. But for just for a few moments there, I felt at home.

Then reality set in because the nearest ocean is what...a thousand miles away? I've got some lakes out here. Reservoirs. Rivers and streams. I suppose for now I can make due here in this dusty state.

A terrible thing to be homesick and you don't even know where home is.


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