Some people eat, sleep and chew gum, I do genealogy and write...

Monday, April 29, 2013

Carry me home

I have lived in Mesa in two different houses less than two miles appart for the past 34 years or so and when asked where I am from, I still say I am from a small town in Eastern Arizona. A town I haven't visited for years. Where we are from is more a matter of emotion than reality. I still feel "home" on the high, windy Colorado Plateau despite my years upon years in Arizona Sonora Desert and I wasn't even born in Arizona! From time to time, my children, who lived most of their grown lives all over the United States and other countries, on occasion, still talk about being from Arizona. It is irrational to feel home in a place where the wind blows 360 days out of the year and the summers are over 100 degrees and the winters drop to 40 degrees below zero.

I think this whole thing called genealogy is really nothing more than trying to find your way back home. Where we live is inconsequential. We feel at home where our ancestors lived and died. Home is where our "people" are buried and where they were born. We spend our whole lives trying to discover this place called home and only find it when it is too late to really understand why. Home isn't really place, it is a tradition and yes, a story.  I get the same feeling looking at the water-washed rock with the carved date of 1620 that I get standing in the wind watching a thunderstorm move north from the mountains across the barren hills of the Plateau. I got the same feeling standing and looking at the empty ruins of my Great-great Grandfather's house in Nauvoo, Illinois, although I have never lived there. What I had in Plymouth or in Nauvoo was a direct connection to my ancient past.

I get the feeling driving around the edge of the mountains when I can see the Wasatch Front and Mount Timpanogos in the late afternoon sun. Realizing that my ancestors for generations saw exactly the same view. As I think about it, it isn't really a sense of place so much as a sense of time and experience. Learning about my past and that of my family is not so much of an avocation, as it is a compulsion.

I recently got the exact same feeling walking into the Family History Library, like I was coming home, not to a place, but to a feeling of a place. I think the time spent in libraries is subtracted from the time you have on earth to live, especially the Family History Library.

So why don't I spend all my time doing research and stop writing and teaching? Both of these are compulsions also. Somewhat competing compulsions, but compulsions none the less. Well, its time to stop dreaming about standing in the wind and watching the clouds and get back to work.

1 comment:

  1. My husband and I lived all over the United States, Europe and Asia. The only p[lace that felt like "home" is the house we bought 42 years ago when we were first married, we live there still.

    All the others were just a place where we were living.