"Does anybody really represent anymore?" - Lil John

Like any other relationship it is complex and malleable and defining. Artists, writers, creators have historically been conflicted and challenged by their relationship with home. I find it hard to articulate while, paradoxically, it has utterly and profoundly shaped and defined who I am, inescapably so. For years I tried to run from it, throw it from my shoulders and my speech and carefully remove it from my foundation, piece by piece, like a tedious game of Jenga. But as in the game it only proves to make the structure unstable. It may be the distance in time and space, it may be getting older, but beyond appreciating it I'm learning to accept and even to miss it. For the first time my mind wondered, "could I ever really live here again?"

Wide-eyed, quiet, I couldn't pull my gaze from the windows. Mountains, sublime in the Romantic Epic Poetry sense, rising guard from all directions. I saw the sunset, I saw the stars. Home. I have found myself recently saying, "I really wish I wasn't from Utah becuase I think one day I'd like to live there," encapsulating my own conflict in its simplest form. Is it everyone everywhere, or is it concentrated in the West? Our relationship with the land? "Sublime" is not intended hyperbole, this is the meat of Stegner, of Williams, of Abbey, of Steinbeck. I feel a tangible security and wonder in that landscape. Although it's comfortable, for the first time in my life my mind has difficulty grasping the visionary expanse. Lack of such vast views once overwhelmed me with claustrophobia. I wanted to plant my hands in those wide, old oaks and crash my head above the canopy suface, gasping to breathe the view. Now I feel dizzied by the open space... I almost didn't go. I packed a bag when I should have been calling a car, I wore the same clothes all week. The sight of the land drew my broken-down body to appreciate an ease of life I'm familiar with, made it delicious, although I also know it is not what I want right now. Distance is a funny thing, the way it stirs and toys with your emotions.

I'm not so naive to quickly forget that the difficulties there are just different from those here in New York. My daydreaming hasn't gotten the best of me just yet. Trying to process the reality of packing a truck and moving life back to Utah? My hometown?? That sounds hard. It's a choice, then, as to which set of troubles you'd rather take on in the moment. Looking side by side, the juxtaposition of where I come from and where I am now is mind bending. It's no comparison (flamingos or dish soap?), and each makes sense in my longing. Although I've been very challenged, I haven't given up hope that I can make it here in the city. Last week just happened to be exceptionally hard. I'm still learning about the balance and order of things here. The good days are the best, and in parallel energy the bad days can really blow. I'm going to stay positive. I still believe that I can find my niche.

Most frequently I am asked, "How long do you think you'll stay in New York?" and truthfully I can't answer that. I just got here. But I still feel in my bones I'm a Western girl. 

Where do you find home?


Anonymous said...

First of all, I LOVED seeing you this weekend. Sorry for the food overload! Secondly, your words are very beautiful. I find it an interesting perspective to contrast with mine where I'm dying to LEAVE home. I love Utah but what if I love somewhere else more? I have this itch to get out and try something new because I never want to be ignorant or limited in my experiences because I'm afraid to step outside a comfort zone.

Also, this thought of home as a physical place may or may not be true. You've heard that home is where you make it, and I can't really say because I've never lived in such a foreign place as New York, but maybe the thought of home is as simple as a routine and feeling at home in relationships rather than a physical address.

welundell said...

Those are beautiful pictures, and words. I know I don't live that far from "home" but when I visit I can't help but never want to leave it. So happy and warm and wonderful! It could be cause my real life is paused while I'm visiting or I really do miss it, I haven't figured it out yet.

Rachel Swan said...

First off, your pics are gorgeous. I always took the river bottoms road to Wolf Hollow in high school, especially in the spring and summer. Your photos brought me back to teenage summers in real way.

I've thought long and hard about your post (obviously, since I typically comment within hours of your post going live), and I think I'll always feel undeniably tied to the Western landscape. It is home for me. Even just moving north of SLC has me aching for the mountains of Provo, Spanish Fork, and Salem. I feel equally at home in Southern Utah, Central/Northern California, Oregon (in the afternoons, the morning drear is a little too much for me), and even the coastal towns of Mexico. I need the space. I need the mountains. I need lakes and oceans and desert air. It just feels right to me.

Brian and I talk endlessly about moving from Utah. I would like to raise my kids outside of this crazy cultural experience, hopefully allowing them to witness diversity, open minds, and different landscapes. But we also both feel a deep connection with both of our families. Sometimes after a rough few weeks, it is just nice to pack up the kids, head "home" to Salem where dinner is waiting and there is a house full of people who will tell me I'm doing a good job.

I think home for me is a soft place to fall. Someplace that matches my internal landscape. Someplace that is equally challenging and comforting.

Ryan & Amanda said...

I love this post. It really is something I think about. There are times when I would love to live somewhere else-especially in a big city to experience a contrast, but truly in my heart I know this is home for me. I love the wide open fields set up against the mountains. I love the "freshness" I can feel most any day outside. Good luck in New York, I am sure you will be wildly successful with anything you decide to do. And as for one of your more recent posts I think you can make a life doing whatever you would like to as long as it is something the fulfills you and something you enjoy.