Saturday, June 13, 2015

The Homing Instinct -- where was mine? 6WS

A recent comment from a very interesting and perceptive friend I haven't been around for a while, reminded me of this : we aren't all born on the part of the planet where we belong. She commented, in a slightly different context, on how she and her husband have different comfort levels in different states, and I remembered feeling alien in some places, totally at home in others.

In the  UK, well, to a supposed Northerner,  even most of the north is alien to me, except for a small part of the Yorkshire dales.  I never in all my growing up there ever felt I belonged.  Partly it was social -- wrong class, wrong religion, wrong region, wrong gender, very good student coming from a background which didn't seem to promise that.  Though my entire family was a bunch of high achievers, huge props to our parents who left school at 12, people did in those days in that section of society, in that religion, in that region.  

And partly it was the climate which was killing me, seriously.  I was a research subject when I was an undergraduate for a bunch of newly minted doctors doing a residency at a research hospital in the city. One of them, he was very young, not used to the impact of a doctor's comments to a patient, which were better made to his colleagues, said, well you're of special interest since you're unlikely to live beyond 30 in this climate!  I guess he thought he'd better write fast.

But I found I felt more at home in France where I went to work as an au pair as a teen,  than I ever did in the UK.  And not at home at all for one minute in Canada where I spent a summer with family.  And at home totally and forever in the US, where we knew nobody and started totally from scratch.  Go figure!  But it's not perhaps so surprising since some of my family did the same thing, landing in New York in the 1850s and similarly, as far as I knew, never looking back. So perhaps they felt this way, too!

Home, home on the Pond...

The first time I came to New York, it even smelled right!  the sounds were right, the atmosphere a bit too high strung for this introvert, but nonetheless.  Then we were in Wisconsin for a couple of years, career related for Handsome Partner, and was that ever alien corn.

Living, finally, on the eastern seaboard with the ocean on the correct side of the land, and within an hour of my house, not unlike growing up in the northeast of another country a bus ride from the sea (that was the part I liked), I felt finally I'd arrived where I was supposed to be all along.  Never looked back.   

Even though I had to learn all new birds and flowers and how to grow stuff, amazing that I could grow things like tomatoes and corn and pumpkins right outside in the weather! to this northern clime person that continues to be a major miracle. But it feels so right, too.

I've explored quite a bit of the US, largely in the course of business travel where I would tack on a day or two to a trip just to mosey about.  California can never overcome its unfortunate drawback, having the ocean on the wrong side of the land, how can that be?  it's flying in the face of nature!  and I couldn't seem to breathe in Wisconsin, way too far inland, beautiful and clean air, what a treat, but still too much land all around. No edges.

What about you, blogistas?  did you have to move to land in the right place?  are you still looking for your right place? were you born in the right place anyway? are you a wilderness type? a countryside type? city type? mountain type? eclectic I can live anywhere happily type? Please chime in, not necessarily in six words!


  1. absolutely, Liz. I was born and raised two roads over, in the country-- not that far away at all from where we are now. We moved to Massachusetts for various reasons when I was 9, stayed there for two years and came back.
    In looking back this was my mother's "place': she relaxed, she allowed me unprecedented freedom to roam the streets of Brookline unaccompanied, or with one of my two sets of buddies--I loved it, took to it like the proverbial duck to the proverbial water, and cried when we came back here. I think if we had stayed I would have been a city kid in another year. That too was my kind of place.

    When I got married we lived in an apartment just outside of the next city back here in NH and while I didnt love it I didnt hate it either. It was a transition place, and we knew it.

    Before we married my future husband asked me one day if I wanted to see the "farm" and having no idea where it was, said sure. It turned out to be at the end of an horrendous driveway, 1/2 mile long, really an old riverbed; and at the top of a steep steep hill the road opened out into overgrown fields, and beyond that a stunning jewel of a house, colonial, weathered shakes, cardboard on some of the windows, and his grandmother standing outside waiting.
    At that point I knew this was the place.

    And this is where we ended up. In 1972 we bought a ratty old trailer to live in while we made the house at least minimally livable, and four years later we moved into the house. No plumbing, no running water, marginal lights and wiring, and never looked back. As long as we've been here I dont think either of us has for one second considered any place else.

    I agree, New York has an energy that appeals to me, and I think I could live there easily, or in Boston. I love cities. And yeah, Calfornia has no business having an ocean, definitely on the wrong side. I mean, come ON, the sun is supposed to RISE there, not set...

  2. Loved your subject to-day. I was lucky enough to be born in a place I love and never wanted to venture outward. My family came here from Cornwall England in 1842. The only thing I did was to move to the other side of the village (pop. 1800) just outside the limits. It is my little piece of heaven and I am content.
    aka Mrs Noofy

  3. Very intriguing. I can't say where I think I would like to live forever but I tend to feel wonderfully at home right here in Barbados! :)

  4. I felt at home here in Western Canada almost as soon as we arrived. I was homesick for the people I'd left behind, for my work, but loved this part of the country. I'd take the mountains over the ocean any day. I've heard some say that home is where you hang your hat, but I agree that there are some places a person is drawn to and where they'll have a happier life living. I enjoy the snow and cold weather so I guess that helps, too, but most of all I enjoy the heart of the West, the people who've adapted over the generations to make this place their home, just as we have. - Jean in Cowtown


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