Whenever anyone asks me where I’m from (after I give them a look of frustrated confusion because I can’t figure out how much of the story to tell), I generally say, “I’m originally from New York-not-the city.” I generally follow up with, “I grew up between the Amish and the Seneca Nation,” a beautiful, rural area in the northern foothills of the Appalachian region. (Which I pronounce App-ah-lay-shun and not App-uh-lach-un like the southern Appalachian foothills folks I know.)
And it’s wonderful how things work out sometimes. Like just about every other major change in our lives, we kinda threw ourselves into this head first, no plans other than getting here and continuing to apply for jobs. Then the first week, I got three interview requests after dead silence for a couple months. And it turned out that the weekend after I flew in, one of my dear friends was going to be three hours north of me for the weekend, and a half hour from my uncle and aunt, so I was able to arrange to see both her (for the first time in a year) and them (for the first time since before college). And now Easter is approaching, and my mom’s two sisters and parts of their family (again, haven’t seen in a long time) are both planning to be up here, as well as my sister and her kids.
There’s this very strange new/old cycle happening in my life right now. Growing up, all my friends couldn’t wait to get out of our small town, but that wasn’t me. For the longest time, I couldn’t imagine not coming back. Perhaps partly because my personal world was so small, I couldn’t imagine anything else. But then jobs were in the cities, and we went to Costa Rica, and I grew and healed and I couldn’t imagine living here. And it’s still not in the plans to settle here 100%, our hearts are too wild for that (and I can’t stand the winters), but I feel as though my roots have been aching and lonely and they’re finally soaking up long-needed nutrients.
A lot of that is because it’s the right time. In 11 years, a lot of the familial and personal wounds have been addressed and mended, even if not fully healed. As a batch, my family is a much healthier bunch than we were 11 years ago, if not physically, then relationally and emotionally. And even as I’m applying to jobs and imagining a life in a new place, I’m imaging a life here. A summer. A couple of months every year. Nurturing my roots, feeding my soul.
Family can be the best and the worst, and right now I’m sitting in a nest of the best. We’re all supporting each other with our individual challenges, trying to make the day easier for each other. Taking stress away from each other so that we can sit, draw back the clouds a bit, and enjoy the beauty of the land of our roots.
Do you feel the same kind of draw to somewhere in your past? Is it where you grew up or somewhere completely different?