I’ve spent the last couple of days in New Jersey – the State where I was born and raised and where I lived the first 44 years of my earthly existence. A long personal history ties me to this State. It is my home in a very profound sense.
Six years ago I moved out West, called by the love of a good man and a marriage of great contentment. I don’t regret that move one bit. I relish the grandeur of the country, the less frantic pace of life, and my adopted hometown. But sometimes I get a hankering for that deep feeling of familiarity that only comes from the place where you’ve spent not just a lot of time but where you’ve had significant life experiences, especially in your formative years. Home.
Very little out West is like the East. The air smells different, feels different. The water tastes different and has a different mineral content. The accents and cadences of the spoken word are different. The last names are different. The weather patterns are different. The colloquial expressions are different (NO one in Idaho says “youse” instead of "you," and NO one in NJ says "oh my heck!"). Even in these days of mass communication and easy movement around this vast country of ours, local culture remains strong, shaped by people living in close proximity to each other in a unique environment that everyone must cope with and react to. It’s not necessary to label the differences “worse” or “better” – they’re just different.
I’m definitely home when I’m out West – that’s where my husband and family are, so that’s home in the very real sense that it’s my center and it’s where I live. I can’t imagine living anywhere else, either, unless my husband went with me. But I’m also home, kind of, when I’m here – this is where my family of origin still live, where I learned to ride a bike and drive a car, got my first kiss, made straight A’s, grew to be an adult, raised my daughter, buried my Dad; powerful memories among many other memories that comfort and unsettle all at the same time.
Still, New Jersey calls me from time and time, and sometimes I just can’t resist that feeling. So I go home to the memories and what is familiar. It soothes my soul in a way I can’t really describe. I’ll be here for a few days. I’ll see my family and breathe in the soft air, complain about the humidity and enjoy being in my brother’s company. And when I touch down at Salt Lake International Airport again next week, I’ll breathe a sigh of relief and look forward to being at home in Idaho – where I now live. Home.What are your thoughts about home?