Last night I said I was looking for home. I haven’t moved excessively since I became an adult, but I definitely haven’t kept it down to a minimum. I’ve lived in enough different places that seeing the list makes me laugh. I’ve loved something about every place I’ve ever lived, but none of them has been quite right, except maybe the last one.
I’ll start with the first place I lived, just to make it a complete list. I lived in Lancaster, SC until I was 18. It was a place I knew I couldn’t live in as an adult. There weren’t the opportunities for the work I wanted to do. I knew I’d never really grow in the ways I wanted to, especially with no kind of transportation to allow me freedom.
Due West, SC, is one of the smallest towns in the state. If you include the Erskine College students in their total, it would come to a population of about 1200-1300. But it had almost everything I needed. Two larger cities were about a half hour away, so we could escape when we needed to. I never really had much trouble finding someone with a car who was willing to go somewhere. It worked beautifully for the most part. I lived there almost six years, but I had to face facts–when it was time to go, it was time to go.
Savannah, GA, is one of the most beautiful places I’ve ever lived. It’s not too far away from the coast, and its Historical District is well-known. I was lucky enough to live very close to the District and within walking distance of the Savannah River. I lived a block off a main bus route, so I could do just about anything I wanted. Their bus system even takes riders into a couple of small towns outside the city, so that’s what I did when I felt the need to get away. I could go most places I needed to on public transportation, so I was as happy as a pig in poop. Eventually, though, it wasn’t quite the right place for me, either. I actually left to go to seminary, but there was something that told me that they wouldn’t be as open and welcoming long-term.
The next stop for me was Louisville, KY. Louisville was by far the largest city I had lived in, and I was blown away at what I could do there. I loved that we got snow on Christmas a few times when I lived there. The transportation was even better than Savannah’s, because it was a larger city. I could not only get out of the city, I could travel to small towns inside Indiana. I actually thought for a long time that I’d stay there long-term. I wanted to, but when I started having difficulty living with depression, the decision was taken out of my hands. I think the city got a little bit of the blame for my difficulties, since I was so lonely at the end. I think if I had been more emotionally stable, I might have eventually figured out a way to make a life there that worked well for me.
Next I boomeranged back to my parents’ house. Suffice it to say, it was no better for me this time than it had been when I was growing up. Still no transportation, so making connections with people in town would be pretty difficult.
I met my partner on the Internet. She lived in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada, and couldn’t leave her daughter there. So the plan was for me to move up there.
Edmonton wasn’t anything like I expected. It was HUGE compared to anything I had known before. Transportation was better than anywhere else I’d lived. I was in a place where I was a bit of an oddity, but that didn’t bother me much. I had the opportunity to do many different things I had never done–like working for small community newspapers. I enjoyed how open the country was to so many things. I laughed at the fact that many Canadians I knew who were more knowledgeable about American politics than their own. I loved some of their food. But it wasn’t home. I don’t exactly know why, but it was not where I belonged.
Asheville, NC, is a beautiful, wonderful small city. The paratransit stinks, so I can’t be as independent as I’d like to be. But the mountains are gorgeous. The people are friendly and welcoming. I call it one of NC’s “pockets of sanity” because the majority of people here are for inclusion and diversity. They care whether their people are hurting or hungry or in need. I’m not as involved with everything as I’d like to be, but I try to support and encourage efforts that I believe in. It could be home, and in some ways, it already is. I just need that freedom to be involved with my community to feel completely at home.