I’m from Kentucky. I also have roots in a tiny North Dakota town. But for the past fifteen years, I’ve lived in New York City. This spring, as it happens, I am employed in Berkeley, California, so I’m getting to experience the other side of the country. People have been telling me, “you’ll love it out there!” But, honestly, I don’t. I mean, I see California’s beauty, and I understand its appeal. I even understand why some people would feel called to move here from the east. I just don’t happen to be one of those people. The first few times I saw a palm tree, I actually laughed out loud. They are just so surprising and look to me like a Dr. Seuss drawing come to life. Also, the “vibe” (a good California word, no?) just feels bizarre to me, not at all like home.
My Gramma, who lived her entire life surrounded by Dakota prairie land, told me once that mountains and oceans upset her, that she was actually a bit frightened of them, so foreign they were to her. Yet New York City was certainly foreign to me before age 22. What was it in me that said “yes” and “home” to that particular place? Perhaps it was a feeling of belonging. Perhaps I could feel the city energizing me in a specific way. I certainly know people who have never felt that way about New York, even after living there for years! Maybe those same people wouldn’t LOL at the sight of a palm tree.
Here are some urban trees that do feel familiar to me.
How do you know when to call a place “home”?