This morning, I’m thinking of the places that have contributed to who I’ve become. There aren’t very many: Maryland, Galveston, Paris, a certain farm a couple of hours away from where I live now.
In each one of these spots, it seems that I remember a specific part of myself when I’m there. It’s as if I’ve left behind something on that land, in that air, that I can only regain when I return. When I depart, it stays behind, waiting again until we can be reunited.
There’s a sense that I can exhale in Galveston; a hint of childhood in Maryland; a remembrance of youthful freedom at the farm; a constant invitation to otherness in Paris. Perhaps I could say, too, that the act of traveling is similarly a part of me, that there is something internal that reawakens when I board a flight or pull out my passport or load up my car for a long journey.
It almost feels like you cannot know me fully unless you can also know how I am in these places, though I imagine that to anyone outside my own heart, I’m not different at all.
Because of the pandemic, I haven’t been to three of those places in years. The farm, though, has remained accessible to me. I was there this weekend, walking around with my child, noting the changes, remembering again how everything evolves. The relief at being there is as sudden as the sound of my car crossing the cattle guard, enveloping me as completely as the dust swirling behind me on the dry, dirt road. Walking around, I cannot help but think – oh there’s the spot where…and a memory from 20 years ago, or 10, or three, is as clear as the day itself.
It is a gift, to have these places. I think of a song, “Half Acre,” by Hem. And I wonder: what is it that you remember? What are the places that hold a part of you?