Like many children, I spent most of my childhood pretending I was somewhere else. Always wishing and hoping to be somewhere other than home in a distant land where magical things happen. It seems ironic to me now as I sit here in my new home half way across the world and long for my old one. You see I am a Coloradan and I have recently moved to Sydney with my husband. It pains me to think of how much I miss those beautiful snow capped mountains, crisp dry air and nuzzling up to the fire with a warm cup of tea and my favorite blanket.
It reminds of how strong our sense of place is as humans and the profound effect it has on who we are. For many of us it is one of the main ways in which we identify ourselves in this world. For instance let’s take John from Kansas City. Immediately I know he must have intense feelings about barbecue joints and an undeniable fondness for the Kansas City Chiefs. He is probably very kind in the way that all good Midwesterners are and thus inherently likable. Or how about Laura from California? She most likely can tell you the best fish taco joint in town, loves the ocean, and has a serious fetish for flip flops.
Our location often determines our hobbies, tastes, likes, dislikes and perhaps holds the key to who we are. Our sense of place is the main grounding factor in our lives and helps us map out how we live our lives in the day to day as well as how we think about the big picture.
Even if you disliked where you grew up, the act of disliking it shaped who you are as a person. If you lived in a small town and felt like a big fish in a small pond, you charted your own path into a big city and began to seek out experiences that were different than those of your childhood.
Azar Nafisi says it best, “You get a strange feeling when you’re about to leave a place. Like you’ll not only miss the people you love but you’ll miss the person you are now at this time and this place, because you’ll never be this way ever again.” It’s as if our identity is intrinsically tied to our physical place and once we leave, we’ve lost a little piece of ourselves.
I think we all miss home in one way or another. Because eventually you grow up and move away from the home you lived out your childhood in. That place we grew up in with our siblings, parents, family pet or whatever combination you had just isn’t there anymore. The house may be there but you’ll never be the same people as you once were under one roof again. One day it just ceases to exist. You won’t know it at the time but one day you’ll look back and realize that your childhood is over and you can’t go back.
I think perhaps we are all missing a place that doesn’t exist anymore, and that my friends, is sad and beautiful at the same time because we are all homesick together.