Some are born in their place, some find it, some realize after long searching that the place they left is the one they have been searching for. But whatever their relation to it, it is made a place only by slow accrual, like a coral reef.~Wallace Stegner
I’ve been searching for my place for many years. I am by nature a traditionalist, one who likes the idea of generations living and dying in the same patch of land. I come from people who spent five generations, or more, living in the shadow of our Nation’s Capital. They were there soon after the District of Columbia was carved out of the swampy land of Maryland and Virginia.
But, I am also a wanderer, by chance. My parents left the land of my ancestors and moved us to Florida over thirty years ago. I moved again when I left home for college, and was forced to move four more times before I screamed “enough.”
As I child, we lived on a hill. I saw the seasons change, and I went on trips to the seashore. I loved the beach. I loved the wild beauty of the sea, the dune grasses that swayed in the breeze. I loved watching the moon rise over the water, and finding shells and other treasures.
I spent years living on the east coast of Florida, just minutes from the beach. I walked for miles along the sand, or rode my beach cruiser along the water’s edge. Then we moved inland, and I missed the sounds and smells of the coast. I felt myself drying up like a starfish trapped in the sand past the high tide mark.
When we moved back to the coast, I found myself longing for the hills and colors of my childhood. I missed seeing the vibrant colors of autumn, and the smell of leaves burning. I wanted to see the hills and the mountains of Appalachia.
I am still torn. I wish to bury my roots deep into the soil of the hills of the mountains. I want a small house deep in a valley, surrounded by gently rounded peaks that will hold me like a mother’s embrace.
I want a cottage near the shore, where I can walk for miles along the beach, looking for shells, and listen to the soothing sounds of the earth’s womb- the rolling sea.
I’m still searching for a place to call home.