I wonder where my home is. The house I have lived in this past eleven years is not home although it’s a very comfortable house. This town is not my home. In a land so tied to Hispanic Catholic roots, the people here seem to measure their ties to the land in centuries, not years. I am not a Colorado native although I have spent more than three-fourths of my life in Colorado. I have lived in three states and countless houses and apartments. But none of that feels like home. So, what, then, do I call home?
Not long ago I read a quote that really hit to the heart of the problem: “If you don’t feel it, flee from it. Go where you are celebrated, not merely tolerated.” Paul F. Davis, an author and motivational speaker, is the man this quote is attributed to. It suddenly occurred to me that I have been restlessly moving around to different locations where I don’t belong almost as if I am trying to prove I am not worthy of being in a place where I am loved and celebrated. It’s a hard concept to wrap my head around, but that about sums it up for me. My current location is the culmination of all these many years of feeling like I don’t belong, don’t fit in, and certainly only deserve to be tolerated.
Another thread that popped up while I was contemplating this thought is the genealogy that I have been working on in an effort to understand my family history and roots. It seems that beginning in the mid 1800’s, both sides of my family became restless and nomadic in their own searches for a place to belong.
My ancestors on my mother’s maternal side lived for at least 200 years in Norwich, Norfolk, England. Then my great-grandfather moved his family across the ocean to Canada. After talking to one of his brother’s descendants, I learned that all the family in England ever knew since 1915 was that one of the brothers moved to Canada. They had lost touch. Even though the family was Anglican, they ended up in Cardston, Alberta, which was a small prairie town settled and occupied by Mormons. They did not fit in and after a short time they moved to Vancouver, B.C., and then later to High River, Alberta. On my mother’s paternal side, my great-grandparents were living in Michigan in the late 1800’s and got the urge to travel by covered wagon across the country to Coeur D’Alene, Idaho, where my great-grandfather and his brothers homesteaded and began farming. My grandfather was four years old. After a very short time, after they discovered they were on land that had formerly been reserved for Native Americans but had recently been reclaimed by the US Government, they left and made two attempts to homestead in Alberta. The homestead at Reid Hill is where they finally ended up.
On my father’s side it was a little more direct. Both sides were in the Georgia and Mississippi area prior to the Civil War. Both sides had men who served in the Confederate Army and after the war both sides relocated to Texas. My grandparents lived on neighboring farms and met and married in the panhandle. After a few years they moved to Arlington, and then to Alberta during the 1950’s oil boom. They traveled back and forth between Texas and Canada for years before retiring to Texas in the late 1970’s.
So I wonder where my home is. I’d like to think I could live anywhere but that’s not true. I lived on the east coast of the United States and missed the dry climate of Colorado. I lived on the plains in the mid-west and missed the mountains. There have been only six years of my life I could not see the Rocky Mountains (either Canadian or American) or the current mountain ranges I live between, the San Juan Peaks and the Sangre de Cristo Peaks. Somehow I think I need mountains.
It’s easier to be a global citizen these days. Travel is quick and relatively easy and affordable. Information on any place in the world that one could want to live is readily available on the internet. Travel guides abound. I long to move to the city of my dreams but it is out of reach. And, is it home? I don’t know, I have never lived there.
I found out quite recently that when my grandfather was doing aerial surveys in 1934 he had a lake and a mountain named after him. They are somewhere above Whistler, BC in the Chilcotin Range. I have seen the photographs and mapped their location. I’ve never visited but someday I will. It may not be home but it’s the one place on earth with my family name on it and may be the one place on earth I would truly feel at peace and at home. I have yet to find out.
May you and your family be blessed in 2018. And if you haven’t found it yet, may you find your home at last.