Rehoming, becoming native to a place

Part of what we merry folk are doing here is figuring out how to become native to a place.  So much of our civilization is built on the movement of people from rural to urban, from community-sufficient to industrially-dependent, and we have lost the knack for knowing how to stay rooted.

I was talking to a friend, recently, and she was experiencing a sense of panic when she thought about the fact that she plans on living in the same place for the foreseeable future.  She’d always moved around, as school and jobs dictated, and fully committing to a place brought what looked like a sense of claustrophobia.  We’ve been taught that mobility is freedom for so long; choosing to become native to a place can feel confining.

The idea of mobility is one of the ways that our culture disconnects us from each other and the land around us.  Why make an effort to get along with neighbors, if we’re all just moving all the time?  Why form a relationship with a local businessperson, when you can just go shop at the superstore down the street?  What does it matter, if we build houses on top of this old farm; there are a million others like it!  When no one needs each other and our livelihoods are disconnected from the land around us, there’s little reason to make the effort.

In choosing Sooke, we have chosen our home.  Friends that we make now may be the friends around us when we’re old.  People are forming opinions about us that they may hold for years (What are all those crazy people doing living in one house?  Are they all married to each other?  Do they EVER buy new clothes?).  We seem to be meeting lots of great people, and they all wish us well with our project (or want to help!), so it seems like there’s more of the former than the latter.

Once we’ve lived here, for a little while, I might think more about an idea is calling to me.  People refresh all the cells in our bodies within 7 years.  If someone ate local (however one defines it) food for 7 years, every cell in their body would belong to that place.  What would it feel like, to fully and completely belong to BC?  Vancouver Island?  Sooke?

2 thoughts on “Rehoming, becoming native to a place”

  1. I find this interesting. I’ve been in our house since 2002, so about 11.5 years, and yet it’s not home.

    Maybe it’s not home because we chose the house from convenience rather than love. Maybe it’s not home because we never intended to live here this long. Maybe it’s not home because while we like the area and community around us, we have no ties to it.

    We see our family as mobile, and our network of friends reach far and wide. Few of them are close enough for a random cup of tea, and traffic patterns make that worse.

    As a parent now, I see the isolation in a different light. I have no one to call to help mind my child when I have a headache that makes me vomit. I have no one nearby if I am home alone with my son and get a tough phone call or bad news, or just need someone to go for a walk with. All activities with friends have to be planned out in advance, and then often fall through.

    Just as I shy away from making a place home, I am also starting to want that sense of community and proximity. I find that while parenting a small child, I have stuff in common with people I never would have befriended before. We enjoy and suffer the roller-coaster of toddlerhood together, and it brings our realities closer than I would have thought. I’d love to have more local friends, but would need to brave adding roots, and I’m not sure I’m there.

    Even in the community where I work, I am an outsider. For one thing, my hopes and dreams are not shared by many, and in my snobbery, I do look down at some of them. I want more! I want travel, adventure, outdoor time and play more than I want a clean, immaculate house decorated tastefully with expensive knickknacks. Finding my people has proven difficult to do.

    As my child grows, I think my need for community nearby will grow. Will I want to be part of the community where he attends school? Many of my worries surround these questions, as they are also tied into my career choices.

    Maybe the next house we live in will feel more like home, but for now, our house is a landing pad for our after work and weekend fun, and all the stuff we keep for our adventures. For now, our community is spread across the globe, bringing wonderful richness and loneliness at the same time.

    I admire your search to find a community where you can be a part of it, make it a true home, filled with people who will encourage your dreams, or at least respect them. I love that you have built your community in your unconventional living situation so that you can address some of the challenges of daily living in a meaningful and proactive way.

    I look forward to reading more of your adventures. Hopefully my long winded comment isn’t too annoying!

    1. (you are never annoying, and I love to hear from you!)

      I remember the feeling of having the whole world to choose from. I could emigrate to France, fix my horrible french-immersion accent, and eat croissants for breakfast at a cafe while wearing a stylish scarf! With a baby, doors opened, but doors also closed. I couldn’t decide to go teach ESL in Korea for a year, if I hated my job. I was more closely tied to my partner. It wasn’t really better or worse, just different.. and lonely, as you describe. I decided, when I’d had my second baby, that I would never have another if I had to spend my days without nearby adult company. I’m probably not having another, anyway, but having lived in community like this I wish I’d found a way to do it when my babies were little. I’d have been way more sane.

      As T gets older, I bet you’ll meet more people. Finding mom-friends is a little like a high-school dance. No one wants to look too desperate, everyone wants someone to dance with, but it’s so awkward to make the first move. It’s hard as a stay-at-home mom, and probably twice as hard as a work-outside mom, but at a certain point he’s going to be making friends too.

      (and I hear you about snobbery. I can be SO SMUG that I irritate myself. I think I need a mug that says ‘ERIN SMUG’ on it, so I can tell people “No, really, it’s supposed to be missing the apostrophe!” when they ask me about it. And then, more smugness – no, bad plan!)

      I hope you find a way to make your house and neighborhood home, or that you are eventually able to choose somewhere else for ‘homishness’, and not just convenience.

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