I was listening to Adele’s new album 25 on the way home today. It’s not something I usually do, listen to music in the car. I’m far more likely to either be listening to a novel or working on my own novel in my head. But the CD got left in my car and I felt like it – so I did. I’m unpredictable that way.
The River Lea came on – I don’t know how many Lyrics I can quote before I get into trouble with copyright so I’m going to talk generally – she’s singing about how the river makes her who she is, how it’s in all of her. This river she grew up next to. And it started me thinking about the places I’ve lived and if they are a part of me. Did I even live in any of them long enough that they became a part of me?
Have I ever listed all the places I’ve lived here? It seems like a lot to put in this post. If you want to know the places I’ve lived click here.
There are places that are part of me. From when I was two to when I was eight I lived on a cattle ranch in Auburn, California, and I spent the rest of my life trying to get back there. I think that’s way Vermont feels so much like home to me. This rural place where people look out for one another.
My memories of the ranch are not all happy. My parents fought. My father worked several hours away and would come home on weekends (sometimes), leaving my mother to take care of the cattle. My mother was a very cultured and sophisticated. She liked opera. She was intelligent. (Not that ranchers aren’t intelligent, but ranching was my father’s thing, not hers.) I do remember those things, but when I remember those times I feel happy.
We had a giant willow tree, its branches brushed the ground and when I parted them and passed through I was in my own special world. There was a stream running under there and I was in my own little world with my tea set and my dress up clothes. I used to borrow my mother’s cast-offs and wander around in them. I’ll see if I can find a photo.
I was heartbroken when my uncle used that tea set for target practice and shot bb holes in every piece.
That place is deeply part of me. It’s why I live in Vermont, even though my children didn’t take to the outdoors the way I did. I feel at home in the countryside, in a way that I never have felt at home in the city. The frenetic energy of the city unsettles me, even though I like visiting them. I’m always happier away from the crowds, the masses of people. Auburn, California is inside me. So much so that I can’t separate the two. A smell, certain bird song, a word, can take me back there in a moment. It was always the place I felt the most like myself until we moved to the backroads of Vermont, and here I also feel the most like myself.
Are there other places that make me who I am? Yes, I’m sure there are. But somehow I think that second place, which is the first place I remember distinctly, is the one that really got into my blood.