I grew up in a small town in the mountains of the southwestern US. The community relied upon the tourism industry similar to parts of Colorado and Utah. Our year round populations were small with numbers (and traffic) swelling dramatically with nature lovers, skiers, and those escaping the cities to find a slower pace in the mountains. This was home; in some ways, my childhood house and town remain home in the sense that I find comfort in the trees and within the embrace of my parent’s house. It is the familiar – the visual past – a means for me to illustrate childhood stories and experiences to share with my daughter.
When I graduated from high school, I left small town America not yet to return to it to call it home. I love city life. I love the culture, the theater, and the vitality. Having lived in various cities around the world, I have also found that there are some cities that are “home” and some that are not. There are places in which I can live – and a lot of places I could live but would prefer not.
I learned, somewhere along the way, that home resides inside me more than it is something that exists externally.
This is one of those lessons or aspects of my personality I would love to pass on to my daughter – my daughter who is amazingly outgoing and adventurous as long as it doesn’t touch her base – destabilize her roots. She loves having a fixed “home” while I am the snail or the turtle happily carrying home wherever I go.
While I lived a childhood limited in scope – surrounded by a tight knit community, national forests, and family history dating back generations – She is growing up surrounded by people from all over the world, exposed to the largeness (and yet the smallness) of the world, and with choices and experiences I did not realize existed at her age.
How different “home” is for her than it was for me.
I do go home – in the sense that once a year I return to the mountains, to my childhood home, and to a community of familiar sounds and smells. I love it there, just as I love visiting the previous cities and locations I have called “home.” They aren’t the same as I remember them, but they offer something different that can’t be found anywhere else. I usually find myself fully realizing the changes in myself and the changes to the communities themselves. No longer does my little town exist without traffic lights. No longer am I “known” wherever I go either for who I am or as the daughter or grand daughter of so-and-so. Yet, the wind sings through the trees as it does no where else in the world. The stars are right there, within arms reach if one dares to try to touch one. The heat, the blue skies, and the quiet that isn’t exactly quiet… everything is consistent. I have a feeling I could return in 50 or a 100 years and find that the community is different but the sounds of nature and its presence remain the same.
I say that knowing that my daughter’s home is very different. As she lives and breathes and walks the streets, the area is drastically changing around her. There is not just a ten year plan for this area but a 20 and 30 year plan. Beyond the walls of her home, everything is in flux. While my life was a study in stability, her life is one of change on so many levels.
So I want to give her home in herself. I want to give her what I learned so long ago without realizing it – that home is inside. It is with us wherever we go… home is in the heart and the soul and the mind. Although there will be lots of cities and houses of belonging – her home resides within her.