Home is where you hang your hat.
Home is where the heart is.
Home, home on the range (or something like that).
If you’ve perused any of MojoFiction’s blog or website pages, you might have realized that we love nature, specifically the great state of Colorado. We were born there and carry with us fond memories of our youth: chasing lizards and usually ending up with only their tails, learning how to ski (Epic Fail), exploring old mines, eating pizza at Fargo’s in Colorado Springs, the Royal Gorge, Red Rocks, etc. Just one look at the Rocky Mountains and we forget our troubles and start wishing we were in better shape because we know that hiking and camping will commence forthwith. Colorado is embedded in us. We’re tied to it and always will be. That said, prairie dogs freak us out. They just do.
Our obsession with our home state got us thinking, which usually isn’t a good idea for us but it happened anyway.
What gives someone a sense of belonging to a place? To the land and people? MojoFiction wonders about those places that we visit for the first time and find ourselves instantly connected to; those places we are in tune with that put us at ease and make us feel at home, even though we’ve never set up shop there. Does that mean place is ingrained in us? Or do we create our own sense of place through our experiences?
After a lot deep thinking while watching American Idol we came up with this:
THE BIG CITY
For a lot of people, home is the city. Currently, MojoFiction lives outside of this great American city:
It’s an exciting city based on the entertaining politics alone, but we’ve never completely connected with it. Sure, we have good friends, good times, and we’re raising our son here, but the place itself, the city, feels more like a fun town to visit than to live (maybe it’s because of the noise, but we’re happier living outside the city). We get the same feeling about New York City and other metropolises. (But we’ll take the people of Chicago over the people of NYC any day. Sorry, that’s just the way it is.)
On the other hand, we’ve visited London twice and both times we wish we could have stayed. The old pubs, the long history, the British sense of humor, the food with improbable names, it all works for us quite well. Maybe in another life we were a Beefeater or something, but London is a city we could easily call home, even if they would rather we didn’t. (Not that they told us that directly…)
But, while we like London (the extent of our European travel), we still find ourselves longing for the countryside.
QUESTION #1: Is the city your thing? It is? Ha ha!
THE BIG NATURE
As much as we love Colorado, after spending years in the midwest we here at MojoFiction have come to enjoy the cheese state of Wisconsin, just north of our humble Illinois dwelling. We go camping at Devil’s Lake and hiking at Parfrey’s Glen and we’re always sorry to go home at the end of it. Also, it’s a three-hour drive and we’re sorry for the gas prices. But it’s green and elevated and the air smells fresh and earthy.
We’ve also developed deep feelings for Michigan’s dorky step-sister, the upper peninsula of Michigan (the U.P.). We’ve been going to the U.P. since we were born and still have family up there. We’re fortunate enough to have a little cottage on Lake Superior with a little swatch of beach (okay, it’s our parent’s place, but we’re claiming it anyway), right in the middle of nowhere, surrounded by forest and nicely spaced out rustic homes. It’s a place where people generally live with nature and don’t pit themselves against it by mowing everything down and building an über-mansion. It’s possible to see deer and bears and sometimes, though more rarely, moose. You can hike into the woods and pick wild berries, bring them home and make your own jam, or whatever you want to do with them.
QUESTION #2: Would you rather walk six blocks to the neighborhood grocery store, or hike through the woods for berries? Keep in mind that the woods do not stock Ben and Jerry’s New York Super Fudge Chunk (or Chubby Hubby).
So the point of this little exercise is to figure out why we like the places that we like. Do you like a place because it’s where you had your first life experiences? Did you meet your spouse there? Or while away your teenage years there? Why do you like the crush of people in NYC? Or the beaches in Miami?
QUESTION #3: Seriously, why do you like Miami?
From MojoFiction’s point of view, all of the places we’ve come to love, Colorado, Wisconsin, and the U.P., have a through-line that connects them all together, besides our love of nature and perfectly rational fear of prairie dogs.
THE BIG FAMILY
If you’ve read our stuff before, you may have seen this coming. For us, the places that feel like home, like we belong, are places we’ve discovered with our immediate family, or they are places that invariably remind us of those family journeys. Looking back, our family experiences are disproportionately on the side of nature. Your’s may be quite different, whether it’s the city or even living on a yacht (can we come along?). But we bet you either had brilliant family experiences as a child at those places or you formed your own family there.
Is there anything more special than bringing your significant other to those places that were special to you? Your childhood home? Your favorite restaurant or bar or coffee-house? Don’t you bring them there do re-establish your link and, hopefully, re-thread them into your life with your new family? To re-affirm your sense of place?
We here at MojoFiction bring our very own son to these places as often as possible (not to our favorite bar…). We have family strewn about the midwest, so when we travel to the U.P., we’re seeing his cousins and aunts and uncles, while the grandparents are in Colorado. We’re building the link between those early family experiences and the places where they happened and, hopefully, passing on a lasting feeling of home.
We hope our kiddo will remember the mountains and forests and go there often.
We hope he will remember the lake and the beach and the little run-down cottage.
We hope he will remember camping and hiking.
But we expect he’ll probably just remember the time his cousin smacked us in the face with a really long piece of wood.