Thursday, May 25, 2006

A Sense of Place

It's always struck me how some people move around constantly, and remain comfortable with that, while others absolutely don't.

Most of my friends from my old home town left, but there are a few who are still right where they started, and have allowed that they'll never leave. I know folks all over who are like that. My ex-wife has lived on Lake Samish, a small lake community south of Bellingham, WA, her whole life, and she will most definitely never leave... I've done mortgages for people who are older than I, who live in the house they grew up in, having taken over when their parents passed on...

Meanwhile, I've lived in: Concord, Mass; Spokane, WA; Seattle, WA; The Olympic Penninsula; Bellingham, WA; Grand Canyon and Yellowstone; Back to Bellingham; back to Spokane; And now Fort Worth, Texas. And all of them have felt like home, in one way or another. And it's weird, because when I go back, I like it, but it doesn't feel like home any more, not like a plcae I left and need to go back to - Texas is my home now, and when I travel, I miss it, and I really look forward to coming home.

It's an interesting split, those two sentiments - I wonder if it's akin to animals that migrate vis a vis those that remain on one turf their whole lives. I've read a bunch of anthropology in my day, and research seems to bear the theory out: Some humans cruise and some stick. What do you suppose it was, (Or is), that causes that? Hunter-Gatherers would generally stay in place as long as food sources were good, and move on when they weren't. The advent of food production in the Near East gave reasons for whole populations to stay put, though others took the technology, (And when possible, the crops), and took 'em elsewhere. Some people moved because they wanted more; conquest, in other words. When we could move into places where a bunch of other people didn't live, (Still possible even into the late 19th century), people did so to get away from others, to start a new life, or to carve a piece of their own off the big chunk.

Nowadays, going where others aren't is a relative term. The places that remain unpopulated are such because they're protected, undesirable, or too remote to be practical. And yet people still migrate...

Monica and I moved for better work, or so we told ourselves. Granted, the economy is much better here than it is or was in Washington State, but if we'd really been rooted, we'd have found a way to stay put. We didn't. We've talk about it, and we know that one of the reasons we're compatible is that we're both not only prone to moving from time to time, we like to: We've never lived in the deep south or the midwest, or together in New England. We've never lived in France, Italy, or Spain... Who knows what the future might bring? Nobody in my family, or hers, is like this. They're where they've been long-term, and will most likely stay there to the end of their days.

When we move, we give up a lot. Friends, family close at hand, a church we like, a community, an ecotype, a lifestyle - Just about everything. Yet we do it willingly and happily, and settle in to a new place pretty easily and relatively quickly. How does that work?

I don't think such questions should be over-analyzed, but they should be asked; it's a healthy thing to consider. To me, so far, the answer is pretty easy: Faith, Family, and Friends. While my extended family is dear to me, my partner and best friend, and the one kid we still have at home, is my nuclear family, and as long as they're around, I'm good. And faith. well, faith is everywhere: My relationship with God is fundamental, no matter where I go. Finding a new faith family can take some work, but it's always there. And friends are everywhere, we just maybe haven't met them yet; old friends will stay in touch, if it's important.

How did that one song go?

The world is what you make it, baby...

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