succumbing to peer pressure

Saturday, February 21, 2009

The power of place

I have never felt particularly tied to any geographical area. My family never operated that way - born in PA and NC respectively my parents met in TX, spent grad school in MN, and had us kids in WV. My aunt 'ran away' to Paris during a break from her freshman year of college. Immediate family is currently settled in TX, FL, and MA. When it came time to do the job hunt and everyone asked 'where?' that question hadn't even occurred to me. I have the luxury (and, let's be frank, the misfortune) that no one has a strong enough claim on me to ask me to stay or go to a specific place.

Moving to CA is exciting, but I keep having these bouts of nostalgia related solely to place. Driving home today, and pausing at the railroad crossing, I am reminded that that used to be my landmark for the turn to April's place. Nevermind that April moved back to Boston years ago.

I'm thinking about this, in part, because Dad is losing his job. And I keep trying to move him in to the place where he is happy to leave a job that has steadily made him miserable for the past five years. But on the phone last weekend he reminds me that he has walked in to the same lab for 32 straight years, and one day in July, he will walk out, never to walk in again.

I don't have an answer for that.

To me, WV is the place my mostly metropolitan, progressive, aging hippie parents moved to be responsible, have jobs, and raise kids. It never fit them. Pretty much since I started seeing them as people, outside of their roles of Mom and Dad, I assumed WV was a temporary stop in their lives, the quintessential place to raise kids, but surely not where they would spend their 'golden years.' With my brother and I out of the house, and off their ledger, surely they would move back to the sort of bustling city that suited their personalities.

Silly me for not realizing that their 32 years in WV is the longest either had spent anywhere. No wonder it seems to me like they fear change. It may not have started as their place, but after three decades, how could it be anything else?


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