When I was little, we used to spend our weekends at our country place. Some mornings, we’d pile into the cars and aunts, uncles, cousins, grandparents—everyone—would go out to breakfast at a little corner café in town. It had copper lights that wound like vines, painted paneled doors on the walls, books stacked neatly in the bookcase, a ceramic Humpty Dumpty up on a high shelf, and a killer cinnamon French toast. It was my favorite.
It’s still there, but things have changed a little bit since then. The walls (and the paneled doors) have been painted a more mature shade of maroon. More books have crowded the bookcase giving that corner a more lived-in feel than in years past. They no longer serve breakfast there, and we no longer spend our weekends in the country.
It’s been years since my parents sold off a part of the property—the part with the house, the barn, the little pond for ice skating, and the field of wildflowers every spring. In those years, I’ve spent a lot of time wandering. There were small towns to stumble upon and cities to learn to navigate.
Sometimes I just got in the car and drove, other times I took planes and ships to faraway places. I’ve stumbled into some lovely places in those years, but the country is still my favorite.
It’s still there, but it’s different these days. I go back every chance I can to try to breathe new life into the acres that remain—I’m forever attached to this place for reasons I can’t quite explain. But I get the sense that I’m not the only one.
It seems that most of us find those places that we connect with. We find corner diners, Cape Cod houses, whole sprawling cities that speak to us in a way the rest of the world can’t. We fit in most when we are there, and there is nothing people crave more than a feeling of belonging.
But often times, we can’t keep these places forever. The diners may close their doors, our parents may want to downsize to a smaller place a few towns away, or the cities we fall in love with may be a long ways from home. The beauty of this is that once we’ve found our place, we carry it with us forever.
No matter where we go in the world and how much we explore, we take our places with us. It is a part of us as much as the hair on our heads and the prints on our fingers. And we are lucky, because even if our place was fleeting, we had a moment where we found a space that made us feel like we truly belonged.
We’ll catch glimpses of those places for the rest of our lives—in dusty stables, in lavender springs. And in familiar corner cafes (even if they don’t serve breakfast anymore).