THE SHORT VERSION:
I live in one of those cities that often makes Top-10 lists for “best place to live for some reason or other.” And I do NOT understand why (not why do I live here but why is it so sought after?). But now that I have finally admitted to not understanding why everyone thinks this place is the bees-knees it feels better. And I shall carry on now.
THE LONG VERSION:
I live in a city that I hear other people talking about wanting to move to someday. An ideal city. An “it” city. I am surrounded by people who seem to love this city. They say things like “it’s the best place in the world” and “I love it here” and “it’s god’s country” and “it’s heaven on earth.” And I listen and smile benignly and wonder to myself what the #@$* am I missing???
I have been here almost 5 years and it still does not feel like home. It does not feel like “my place”, whatever that means. So the question is, what makes a place feel like home? What makes a place feel like your place? What makes it feel like you belong? What makes it feel like “the best place on earth”?
This topic came up at lunch a few weeks ago at work. Everyone was talking about how much they love it here and I finally found the courage to say “I don’t.” [Shocked silence in the lunch room. People looking at me like I had grown a third eye and a horn and turned purple.] And then, to make matters more awkward I added, “Not only do I not really love it here. I also do not understand why everyone else does. Please educate me! What am I missing??” Phew. [There, I did it. Total honesty.]
And then the responses rolled in.
- The mountains are amazing
- The water is so beautiful
- The hiking is the best
- The summers are gorgeous
- The air is so clean
- Everything is so green
- It is a great place to raise kids
- The football team rocks
- The schools are good
- And so on and so forth…
And in my head I was thinking, but there are other places with mountains and water and hiking and summers and clean air and green stuff and kids and football teams and maybe even a few green kids who hike. Soooo, why here???
So I asked again, what makes it so special here?
- Is it the weather? [No everyone said. The weather is just ok most of the time. And the summers are nice.]
- Is it the people? [Goodness no was the overwhelming response. People are not terribly friendly here and it’s hard to get to know people. Hmmm. But that one seems important to me…]
- Is it the cost of living? [Definitely not. Housing is not quite as bad as LA, San Francisco or NYC, but it’s heading that direction.]
So again, what makes it so special?
No one could really say. Other than some combination of the mountains and the water and the summers and air and the green stuff and raising kids. And that they just really like it here.
So there it is. That indefinable quality that makes somewhere “your place.” It seems this place is not mine. But I’m not sure where my place is. And I wonder how long do you stay somewhere and keep trying to make it “your place,” until you just say “nope.” And move.
But really if I get right down to it, anywhere these 3 people I share most of my life with ARE, well that is “my place.” Period. And since this place fits those 3 people it seems only right to keep trying to make this place I live in currently work for me. So I might go check out the mountains and the hiking and the water and the football team and somewhere in there I might find something that makes this feel more like I belong. [And I also have a feeling there is something important in the part about the people – it’s hard to meet people here and it’s hard to make friends. And most of the people I have talked to about this agree. I think finding friendship and finding a group to belong to may be more important, to me anyway, than finding the mountains and the water and trees. Finding those people may be the way to find “my place.” But that is another post.]