Sunday, August 24, 2008

My Place on the Map

All my life, and presumably for the rest of it, people ask, "Where are you from?" Knowing what they mean, I say Minnesota. "But where exactly?" Nowhere, everywhere, wherever. It doesn’t matter. Generally, people do not understand this.

When you move your whole life, it's not the place that you recall. It blurs. I was enrolled at eight different schools through the 12th grade, even though four of the grades I was taught at home and I attended one school for three years. My dad pastored a total of 12 churches before I graduated college, and he didn’t start his ministry career until I was nine. The roads of Minnesota are another sort of home to me. They all look familiar because they are.

I’m not jealous of Kansas City as George’s centerpivot. Instead I’m occasionally disappointed that he needs one. Doesn’t he know it’s not about where he’s from? That it’s just a leaping-off point?

Today I read something that resounded with me for the first time in ages, though I realize I am to blame for reading mostly crap. But this made me think about my center, which has always been a feeling.

“If you move around all your life, you can’t find where you come from on a map. All those places where you lived are just that: places. You don’t come from any of them; you come from a series of events. And those are mapped in memory.”
The Way the Crow Flies, Ann-Marie MacDonald

I had just come home from summer camp to a new house in a new town. I’m sure it happened more than once, but I remember trying to leave my sister behind to go and play with a friend my age. Allison, three years younger, seemed to be dragging me down, always wanting to do whatever I was doing. As always, Mom made me wait for her. She crouched down next to me, buffering the scruffly noise of Allie putting on her velcro shoes, and said, “Who comes with you every time you move?” I was eleven, but I knew what that meant. “Hurry up!” I said meanly to Allison, and she always did.

As we settle a bit more into Kansas, I already know it's easier for me to adapt than it is for George. I could call it a gift, but, really, it's a necessary learned behavior. I've had loads of practice. I've moved six times post college. I've had 29 jobs.

When my people move, whoever they are, I flow with it, trying to be patient. Those who don't come along still aren't far. I have always been good friends with my memories.

1 comment:

Gary said...

What a thoughtful post. As someone who has been Denver-centic his whole life, my sense of place has just been dramatically changed.