Yesterday comments from ldw, motherissues, Essie the Accidental Mommy, and Mama Drama Times Two got me to thinking even more about this idea of "home"and the role of culture. Mama Drama noted how funny it is that a place can "feed your soul" and I definitely agree with that. I struggle mightily at times with being a SAHM these days mostly because I miss my work as a teacher and educator on a broader scale. Yet I wouldn't have it any other way and am so lucky to have the option to do this right now both because I enjoy it and my children need me to be here for them. I cannot imagine living as easily as a SAHM while living in my "old" world where most of my friends were academics and I was constantly running into my students and former students. Yet, being away from all that and in a place and space that feels so right and makes me feel at peace and at home makes all the difference in the world. I believe I am exactly where I am supposed to be and doing what I am supposed to be doing at this point in time. All of that "feeds my soul" and much of it is due to being "home." I just didn't realize how much this place did that for me but I can certainly feel it despite the challenges :-) Of course, it isn't just the place itself that does that since we cannot separate place from people, experiences, memories, etc.
For all the time I lived East whenever I said "home" I generally meant South Texas. I remember when I realized I had lived away from for a longer period than I had lived at "home." I still couldn't bring myself to call the East Coast home. I loved many aspects of my life there, especially in Boston, and I certainly had all of my friends and community there. It was home, especially once the children came. But it wasn't home. In my work with college students I often taught courses about culture and ethnicity and one of the activities we did was having students uncover the key aspects of their cultural identity. In setting up that activity I always found myself describing my "Texan" culture as a significant part of who I was and I am not what anyone might consider a serious "Texan" by many standards. I certainly don't fit many of the general criteria that would characterize someone from Texas as imagined in the minds in and out of Texas. If I were I probably wouldn't have left but I don't think I have ever had much of that so-called "Texas pride." I have some, of course, otherwise I couldn't call myself a Texan! :-)
Maybe that is why I don't come across as a Texan when in Texas or as an East Coaster when on the East Coast. When I left for college I felt like I was someone else trapped in a Texan's body and I just couldn't relate to all that seemed to be a big part of being Texan. I know that sounds like a huge generalization and it is a generalization but one that I think is true of many places. We are products of the multiple cultures that influence us and we knowingly or unknowingly accept or reject elements of each of these cultures that still influence us no matter how "individual" we believe ourselves to be. We aren't growing up in a vacuum after all. So I internalized so many aspects of this "Texan" culture even as I was rejecting it but it took a 25 year trip away and back for me to begin to make sense of it and yes, be changed by it so there is a little bit of the the East Coaster/New Englander in me after all.
As I began raising my children in Boston which is their first home since they were all born there and they have important elements of their life there I began to recognize experiences they might never have if we stayed there. It may have been a bit nostalgic but I also knew there were things we couldn't do living in the city where we did. Even my kids notice it now. They notice that the people are "different" here and "friendlier" here even as we notice there aren't other families like ours here. They notice that kids are "nicer" to them here even as kids tell them they think that it is impossible to have 2 moms (you can imagine what happens when mine say they have 3 and start talking about birthmoms too!) They notice that people (including us) aren't rushing around they way they did in Boston and they notice that some things are really slow here. Then we start to notice the differences and miss the beautiful fall colors and of course, they miss playing in the snow!
So, yes, it is great to be "back" and "home" in Texas and when we moved here a part of me felt like I could exhale. And Essie, I think you may be on to something that explains my current fixation on the skies...the sky certainly does seem bigger in Texas than it did in Boston. :-)