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A sense of place

May. 17th, 2005 | 12:19 pm

14 years ago I moved away from my home town, where I was born and raised for 18 years. Ostensibly I left to pursue a degree in nuclear engineering, which drove my choice of place. On some level my motivation was also to get far from home and experience something new. I had a theory that everyone should live their lives somewhere completely different for at least a year to experience life. Over time I can't remember if I thought that before I left home or realized it while away from home, but for me it absolutely felt right.

Coming from rural Minnesota to Tucson may as well have been like going to a new country. Different people, different climate, different culture, different ... scale. My first football game I sat in the stadium and realized every person in my home town would fill a fifth of the place. I felt tiny and lost.

The ties to the place I'm from have weakened over the years. My brother's moved away from the town but stayed in the area. My mom passed away three and a half years ago. And now, two months ago, my grandparents have moved to the nearest big town. Now when I "go home" it's no longer the town I grew up in, but to the people I grew up with. It's the way it should be, but it still feels a little bit strange.

On this trip I spent a day in my hometown, just driving around to all the places I had spent some time at. I recorded stubs of memories as they came back to me; mostly happy, some sad. Something felt like I had to capture every last drop of memory right now, as if it we slipping away in an hourglass. So many wonderful things came rushing back to me, but I found myself feeling homesick in an odd way. I wanted the town I knew, the place I had existed in, to come back. That hill wasn't supposed to be there, that building over there is new, hey wasn't there a park there?

Some people feel they are who they are despite where they came from, but I am who I am because of it.

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