Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Home is where the heart is

Since I lived at home for two-thirds of college and haven't served a mission, I was spared the hassle of moving every 6-12 months like so many do. Still, I have lived in 9 different homes to date, 10 if you count my London flat, brief as it was (and I do), and 11 if you count the month I stayed with my grandparents when I was 10 (and I don't completely).

This further breaks down to 7 (or 8) different cities, 3 (or 4) states, and 2 countries.

Today, I'm going to focus on the states I've lived in - Utah, Texas, and Virginia. The fascinating thing is that my time in each of these states pretty much represents a stage in my development. Utah represents my early childhood, late teen, and college years. Texas is childhood and early teen years. Virginia, so far, is where I've grown into a full-fledged contributing-member-of-society adult.

Utah - The 45th state. My place of birth. The state I truly call home. Beautiful mountains and other natural beauty that make it a geologist's paradise. Predominantly LDS, which is comfortable for me. A state my family has been tied to since the beginning (the other is Iowa, but I've never lived there). The best snow on Earth. My safe haven.

Texas - The 28th state. Where I say I grew up - though I suppose I mean physically more than anything else. A really freaking big state (2nd only to Alaska) and, therefore, one with a lot of natural diversity. The place where I experienced life as a minority - first as a member of the LDS church (all 8 years) and second as an ethnic minority during all three years of middle school in a predominantly African-American school. This is where I first learned to be me and no one else. Even if I never return to this state, it will always have a special place in my heart.

Virginia - The 10th state. Where I have really come into my own. A state that could really be divided into two - Northern Virginia (essentially an extension of DC) and the rest of the state. The people and lifestyles and energy are so different in those two sections. As much as I know I've grown and learned in the previous stages of my life, this is where I've truly found me, understood me, and done so on my own. And did you know there is a state bat?

Of course, I don't think it's the states I've lived in which have formed who I am as much as the environments within them, but it convenient to break up my life that way. I'm also very glad I've lived both in Utah and in the "mission field" as it's given me the chance to develop my personal convictions independently. It's so easy to say "I can't, I'm Mormon" when no one else is, but you can't get away with that when everyone is. And since then, I've personally come to understand why I do/believe or don't do/believe without defaulting to my religion. I also feel I've learned so much about people and the world by living in so many different places. Simply touring different places doesn't give you quite the same level of understanding.

I'm excited to see where I go from here.

3 comments:

Giggles said...

It's fun to place yourself in the world like that, isn't it?

And anyone who's ever lived in Texas has that place in their heart for it. There really is something about that state.

DeShawn Smith said...

I just thought this worthy to mention: If you split Alaska into three equal parts, Texas would be the fourth largest state.

Myrna said...

I so agree! It is mind-expanding to live in different places.