i could write about this a thousand times and it would still say something different. i would still learn something new about myself.
i was walking today, down a half a highway, as I picked up trash and the people I was walking with, three women, they began to talk about a place that pulls them together: Texas. and one of them mentioned that I don’t understand what the pull of that state is to her. and it’s true-half true. because i understand what is like to be called by a place, to feel at home the moment you set foot inside of its boundaries but at the same time, i don’t. and so I began to think, as I always do, and as they moved their feet, I moved mine slower and soon just the sun kissed my skin as my thoughts rolled through my head.
i am different from so many people. of course, how could i not be? i thought a lot this past week about what family means to me, how i define family because we were discussing the topic in anthropology. i have thought a lot about this before and one of the woman in my class said that she could never imagine calling someone besides her own blood sisters, sisters and that is something i can not imagine–some of the people i love them most are my sisters, my sisters who share not a drop of the same blood as me. i have long since decided that blood does not mean we are linked together in a healthy way, family is not a given, a gift–at least not for me. you have to earn family, you have to deserve it, you have to give it back. and so of course, as i thought about family, it wasn’t hard to change and begin to think about what home is to me. because while i have decided what family means to me, i have not yet decided what “home is”. and so i thought about it, as i walked down the highway, the sun so bright.
i understand what the women in front of me were saying–the pull of the land, feeling comfortable and safe when you are back in the place you have labeled as your home but i do not comprehend never wanting to live somewhere else, feeling such a strong pull by a certain city or state that it feels like it is calling me back. no, that i have never felt, except maybe for half a year after i got back from Panama. but that feeling faded because even though there are many people who i love and care about and owe a great deal in Panama, there are people who mean more, have meant more for longer here and so I couldn’t give into that pull, into Panama’s pull. i can’t live so far away….away from what? away from my home? no, because Tennessee doesn’t call me. i do not long for the shores of the four lakes of Madison, for the snow, for the blooming flowers and the falling leaves. yes, quite often i miss the environment that is Madison, the like-mindedness to myself that the city possesses, but that it not missing a place–that is missing the people who are in a place. and as soon as i realize this, i begin to think on something else. on the fact that unlike so many of my friends, i have not lived my whole life in one place. i lived in Tennessee for 5 years, in Eagle Heights, which is not Madison despite its proximity, for 6, in Madison for 6, in Panama for 2 months, in Missouri for a year and 2 months, in Europe for 7 weeks–so what? so I have had many homes? no, that can’t be it. so i am at a loss again. until I remember Bass Lake and i recall something that I realized months ago: all the times that I have moved, Bass Lake hasn’t. it has always been there for me. from the day i was born. if an piece of land is my home, if any piece of land calls for me, pulls of the strings of my heart, runs through my blood, it is that corner of the North Woods. that’s why loosing it hurts so much. it was my home.
but i am used to moving. see the list above? i have to be. i have learned not to become attached to the land and so what does that leave me with? where am i from? what is my home?
oh you see, the answer is so simple: the people. the people, my people, they are my home. they are what calls to me when i am gone, they call me home when i am too far.