East, West, Which is Best?

Question: East, west, which is best?
Answer: Wherever you happen to call “home” at the time the question is asked.

East: Humarock Beach in Massachusetts.

It’s funny how a place can go from being home for years and years and years and in the space of a few moments cease to feel like home ever again. I grew up in a beach town in Massachusetts and lived there until I was 16. Then we moved to Utah, and visiting Massachusetts feels very strange to me now.

My sweetie and I on Humarock Beach on a lovely windy spring day.

My sweetie and I just got back from a week-long vacation jam-packed with family and friends, some of whom I haven’t seen in over ten years. It was by all accounts a lovely vacation. I irritated my little sister (always a great source of joy!), pestered my dad and my grandparents, dined with cousins and aunts and uncles, and got to play with lobsters on the kitchen floor (something I haven’t done since I was really little). I walked on the beach where I learned how to swim; I ran my hands over the trunks of trees that I climbed every day as a child; I went upstairs and stood in the room I occupied as a teenager; I realized that I had forgotten where the measuring spoons are kept in the kitchen that I grew up with. I met my best friend’s first child for the first time, and we ate lunch as if we had been separated only for a few days, and not three years.

We walked through Boston and I reminisced about how much I love dogwood trees in the spring.

Dogwood tree just before blooming in the spring.

But all the same, looking out the window on the plane ride back to Utah, I was flooded with an overwhelming sense of relief as the part of me that is always wanting to be home clicked back into place.

West: miles and miles of gorgeous vast desert in Utah.

Home is a tricky thing, and for my money is much more about people and emotions than it is about a geographic location. Far more about belonging, and much less about brick and wood structures. These visits to the place that I had a more or less idyllic childhood always leave me a little bit sad, in a hollow way. I recognize almost everything. I still remember how to get everywhere when I am driving. But I don’t feel the sense of attachment that used to be there.

I always feel like I should identify more with my hometown and less with my adopted state, but then I remind myself that it’s like family vs friends. You can’t help the family you’re born into (luckily, mine is pretty awesome). But you can choose your friends. Coming home always reminds me why I choose to be here, and how much my heart belongs here.

Belonging. It’s a nice feeling.

Love, peace, and reminiscing,

Leave a comment


  1. Mom

     /  April 5, 2012

    Very nicely put, my dear. Maybe deep down I know these things to be true, and that’s why I have never gone back to visit. Hard to say, and highly individualized. Welcome home, Li-Po.

  2. Annie

     /  April 6, 2012

    Hey cousin- I really love this. I’ve felt that relief when I’ve landed in both America AND Australia when one seemed more comfortable than the other. Which is home?? It’s such a weird concept.

  3. Rural Utah can’t let you go! I know what you are meaning. I went through a period in college where I was so worried about losing “my roots”-that down home country bumpkin girl who was authentic, rural, and humble. It was so hard when Salt Lake City ended up having so much that I loved, and so much of home. I was really conflicted when I met Cade. He told me that home is not a place, it’s your heart. All of a sudden I realized that home is wherever he is. I remember one drive to Cleveland realizing how foreign everything was. It was where I grew up, but not where my home is now. I didn’t think any other place would give me the lovely feeling that SLC did. Spokane has been much more of home for us, and surprised me all the while. I feel so strange driving around SLC where I used to drive everyday.

    I love your blog. It really strikes a true cord (chord?) with me!


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