I am thinking about place in the sense of the physical spaces we inhabit – for example, this (now sweaty) chair overlooking Burnside and its whole smorgasbord of characters wandering down the street – as well as the more metaphoric ones – for example, this liminal year of post-grad.
In the past nine months I have lived in five different places. Waterville, ME. Bethesda, MD. Boston, MA. Various small towns across Spain, and finally, Portland, OR. When I think about it, and realize that I have maybe lived in a total of three different places in my entire life up until this point, I realize that five in the span of nine months is kind of a big jump.
I am a firm believer that the people you surround yourself with are what makes a place a home. Every time I read some small blurb somewhere reinforcing this notion, that we are happiest when we surround ourselves with people that make us happy, I just nod my head in agreement. Preach. College was the epitome of this for me. By senior year, I had a group of about twenty girlfriends that I adored (and still do) and spent every minute surrounded by. How does one go from this utterly unique sense of family and place in college to just floating in various cities the year after?
As someone whose mind is always running, who is always eager to analyze, to meditate (prime example – I even meditate on what my sandwich preferences mean), the notion of finding that sense of place and purpose again has been one of the most difficult parts of this year for me. I walked across Spain to find place. I moved across the country to try something different and find purpose. And yet, nine months, four moves, three jobs, and countless informational interviews later, I still feel like I am floating. I still question if I am, physically and metaphorically, in the right place.
I know this is really only the beginning of it all, and no one realistically knows where life will go at this point (that’s part of just the way it works), but I know at least some of you are right there with me wishing for those answers. When do we take risks? At what point do we know it’s okay to say, “I tried this, I learned, it’s just not working”? At what point do we pick another country to walk across?
At some point I hope to be able to say, here I am. Right here. Sure of my place. For the time being, look for the curly-headed girl sweating in a bookstore window, drinking a large coffee. She is almost always in so many places, all at once.