Every place I’ve ever lived in as an adult I took to instantly. Which is not to say that I didn’t look at a dozen places before each lease. But that feeling when you walk into a room and light up? That’s home. I know what home feels like. Ironic, coming from a military latchkey kid who never had a permanent address.
I have that here on the Farmcoast. I had it in Chicago. I have it every time in Paris. Not so much in Buenos Aires. Nor Seattle, Pisa, Barcelona or San Diego. (And I was born there.) Not in any other neighborhood in metro Boston besides where I live in Brookline. Nosara, nope. New York, hell no. Anse Marcel in Saint Martin… well, it’s French and tropical, what do you think?
Is it instinct or expectation? For instance, I came here feeling a little anxiety about moving out to the middle of nowhere in the dead of winter. Low expectations yielded a pleasant surprise.
Conversely, before my five-week trip to Argentina, I was giddy with the idea of living in the “Paris of the South,” but I actually found Buenos Aires leaving much to be desired. High expectations resulted in let down. Paris, France, however, breaks the mold. I loved it in 1994. I love it in 2015. My three-month sabbatical there in 2005 began as desperately romantic and ended heartbreakingly bittersweet. But it’s Paris. She in a category of of her own.
Cut back to now.
I’m nowhere truly special. (Sorry, Farmcoasters.) It’s not a well-pinned TripAdvisor destination. Nor a locals must-see spot. But somehow I feel like I belong. And if it’s not here, here–the physical town or house. It’s the environs, the openness of vineyards, farm land and stretches of road without street lights or traffic or blocks of buildings blocking the sky. Nature suits me.
It’s how I feel when I arrive at the top of a White Mountains’ 4,000-footer, gasping at the shades of whatever season the peaks are projecting. I felt it on Monte Cinto in Corsica and on Lagos de los Tres in El Chalten. Same on Iceland’s moonscapes, the unreal expanses of lava rock and nothing else as far as the eye can see. It’s anywhere that’s awe-inspiring.
The great outdoors…
It’s why I brought my hiking pack with me. My poles. My boots. Even my Goretex®. I packed ’em with the excited thought that maybe, just maybe, an opportunity to trek up to the mountains might pop up. It hasn’t yet. And to my surprise, I’ve been just as psyched to walk down to the end of the dock at the house and gaze down the river. Flat, no peaks. Just a whisp or two of stratus clouds and the dark chocolate bark of the barren trees on the opposite bank.
I like it.
I like the cotton tail deer that jump in and out of my path like playful ghosts. I like the sight of a bright red cardinal (I think it was) and earthen red belly of a robin. I like that I even care to figure out what kind of bird it might’ve been. I like the playlist: wind, chirps, hollow sounds of the empty spaces.
Won’t it change when spring and summer come? Maybe. And maybe so will I by then.
Is it nature or is it beauty? Or could it be new-agey aura? My Brookline apartment wraps you in its cozy, European-style detail. Sun streams in through eight bay windows. It is no doubt stylish and filled with personality. But it overlooks a grocery store chain parking lot and the subway tracks. The only nature I can see is hand-groomed and the soundtrack is punctuated by an occasional group of drunk college kids getting off at the wrong stop. But it’s home. And it struck me as such the first time I saw it. Go figure.
Formula. Maybe there isn’t one. Maybe I shouldn’t be looking for it. Trying to make sense out of what draws me here or there. Maybe it’s all relative. Or maybe it’s me and my persnicketiness. (I just wanted to use that word in a sentence.)
Is it even the place or is it the time? Is it the magical intersection of everything coming together in synchronicity? Is it my willing it to be so? Or my letting go and letting it be?
When you find yourself in the right place at the right time, what is the thing that warms you?