"So what, you just moved to Philly on a whim?" Pretty much, I had to admit. This weekend in particular I was smarting from that decision. I'd only been in
The 9x9 room I'd fixed up so cozily now chafed like a prison cell. The great city of
It was my friend's father who asked whether I'd moved to Philly on a whim. Had I? It certainly happened quickly. I arrived at my cousins' place on a Monday evening, found a place on Thursday, got it all settled with the landlord on Friday, and moved in a week later. I'd been considering
It seemed silly to attribute my decision to nostalgia, to a kinship with the soil for heaven's sake, but I'd been hiking and camping around the state all summer and fall, and I wasn't ready to leave yet. As I traversed rocky paths through thick foliage, past views of sleepy rivers snaking around green mountain mounds, along barren coal fields and crumbling railroad tresses, I felt at home. The lack that had always accompanied me (so familiar as to be almost unnoticed) - no family of my own, no financial success, no deep roots in any one location - dropped away. Its shadow of neediness vanished as well, and I was left with only contentment. Just being outside was enough. I joined up with various hiking groups, and for the first time in my life, I didn't feel awkward not knowing anyone. It didn't matter whether people were interested in me or not. I felt liberated.
Of course it's not like I wouldn't have experienced a similar sense of peace hiking in another state, and day to day life in Philadelphia, the city, didn't exactly conjure up those feelings. I could have moved to
Seeing all of my friends did give me the boost I needed. A few of the guys had guitars, and we sang Russian songs, party favorites from our old days in
Perhaps it isn't that I really belong in a particular place but that I'm choosing a place that reflects my inner state back to me, and so I feel comfortable. Certainly I feel at home around people who share my values and empathize with my feelings, but can an outside source really give me what I need to feel content? Wouldn't the acceptance and validation that lead to a feeling of belonging be better cultivated from within? Sadness over my breakup aside - okay, I didn't eat for two days - I'd like to think that the Russian songs don't induce crying now because I no longer need to share in