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Sunday, March 9, 2014

True North

I was lucky enough to spend this weekend in Chicago.  The goal was to see Wakey!Wakey! perform.  More on that will be coming soon enough.  But there was a part  of the evening that got me thinking - in fact, got me blogging while I was still standing at the show.  Jillette Johnson opened for Wakey!Wakey! and performed a song that really struck a chord.  These are my thoughts.
I don't know if it is a regional, national, or human thing, but people put a ton of emphasis on where we are "from."  That question is a very tough one for me. In fact my sister texted me one day asking how I respond to that question. I was born in Iowa, spent several years in South Carolina, then most of growing up was in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan, then since high school I have been in the lower peninsula. 
So when someone asks where I'm from, it is not easy to answer. 
And really, why does it matter? I understand that where you are raised can have a significant impact on who you are, but too often people make incorrect assumptions based on it. 
More often than not, when people hear where I grew up, they assume that I hunt, camp, and know very little of the world. I have never hunted, almost never camped, and while I may not be an expert, I have traveled and been exposed to enough to understand more than people expect. 
Maybe we focus on where people are from in an attempt to connect. A chance to find a common ground. Although, aren't there better things to connect about? Where we are from is out of our control and doesn't actually say anything about a person - though we assume it does. Why don't we focus on how we care for those around us, on what is important to us, or on where we sees our future's leading? Those ideas can provide common grounds that can actually provide a basis for a truthful conversation and a relationship based on respect and love rather than geography. 
And despite these rantings-home is important. For many people where we are from is less about the city or region and more about the feeling of comfort and safety that comes from remembering or returning to this place. I get this. Even though I will never move back to any of the places I lived before graduating high school, even though I don't even care to visit but every 5-10 years, there is something special about home. Our memories like to play with us and hold on to the best moments. Anyone who knows me well knows that I never really fit in growing up. And that's okay. It has made me who I am. I have many acquaintances, but only one true friend left in that region, and yet. And yet I still feel that occasional pull to go home. To try and recreate what my memory tells me I had there. 
I actually took my husband up there for the first time, after more than 7 years together. And while logically I know that there is nothing for me in that whole peninsula, my heart still pulls. I know I will never live there again, I know that I may not even visit ever again, but nostalgia is a powerful emotion. And that's okay. As long as we go in with open eyes and an open heart. As long as we remember that the place it is now may not be the same as it was, it may not feel the same, we can still take comfort in the memories. 

True North. The path towards home. A path I hope everyone can feel and follow when needed. Whether home is where you were born, where you were raised, where your parents live, or where your current home is - it is important to know where you can find that feeling of safety and peace. Because there are times that it can fix everything, when nothing else could.

So thank you Jillette, for the start of an amazing show, and for the beautiful words on home.

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