What Is Home?

| | Comments (5)

I have a curious experience every time I go to Virginia. If I'm driving, I count the states Northward on my journey as steps back into time (even though, technically speaking, I live in the state with the oldest continuously populated city in the Continental United States.) I note other things as well--the way Florida flora only gradually is replaced by more northern species so the net effect is that Georgia and South Carolina are more like Florida, and North Carolina and Virginia like more temperate states. I also note how drab (in comparison only) North Carolina is. It probably isn't drab at all, and that is part of my point. When I cross the border between NC and VA, no matter where it is that I cross it, the heavens open up and a choir of angels sings and light becomes light.

In short, for reasons I can't begin to fathom, Virginia is home. I wasn't born there, I did spend ten formative years there, but so did I in New York, Columbus, Ohio, and other places. Virginia has no claim geographically, chronologically, or otherwise to being home. And yet, it is.

I love Florida. If I can't live in Virginia, Florida is a fine second place, there is no other place I've lived outside of Virginia that I would return to. But Virginia is home. As much as I dislike some aspects of it--winter cold and D.C. traffic, and a certain surliness amongst people who are supposed to help you and a dampening (in the Northern Part of the state) of the tradition of Southern Hospitality and courtesy--still and all, Virginia is home. When I have to leave, it is deeply wrenching--worse, in some ways, than leaving family and friends. l

This time we drove throught a part of Virginia that wasn't even intimately familiar. My home was Northern Virginia and I was acquainted with most of Virginia down through tidewater. This time I drove up through Roanoke and the valley and ridge region. The autumn colors were magnificent. We stopped at natural bridge and the sense of home even there was profound. Even the rocks, folded, tilted, occasionally deformed by the processes that raised the Appalachians, even the rocks spoke of home and reminded me that I belonged in some deep, indeed unfathonable, way.

Have any of the rest of you had similar sorts of experiences with places? Have you happened upon any explanation of the phenomenon (outside of the concept of reincarnation, which I'm not particularly interested in considering at the present time)? I'd love to hear if this is a shared experience or merely the peculiarity of one individual.

Bookmark and Share


My experience with this is Gaeta, Italy. I've only spent a few summers there, but whenever I go back I have the same feeling that you do when you cross the border into Virginia. On the other hand, I don't have to stay long before Gaeta becomes old; one can't hold on to childhood for ever.

I do like Virginia, though, and I like the Roanoke area a lot. I can further attest to the fact that North Carolina is a very nice place, too. By now I rather like N. Carolina better & I'm a tad nostalgic for it.

I was raised in Roanoke, so this time of year makes me really homesick for the Appalachian mountains.


This is precisely what I sensed when I was in Ireland. It was HOME. I have never had the privilege of living there but it is my home. The rhythm of life is different as are myriad other things but it all seemed to suit me perfectly. Some areas were like that more than others but my visits were colored by the company I kept and the purposes of the trips (which were very distinct from one another).

Thank you for putting it so well in your 'blog.


It's odd how the sense of home-ness in Ohio seems not state-wide but very limited geographically, probably because the state has very different geographic areas (as I don't have to tell you, who is keenly aware of landscape). My grandmother pined for "God's country" in the Wapakoneta area, a couple hours west of Columbus while living in the Cincy area.

Dear Jack,

I don't think we're describing the same thing. In my case the feeling doesn't go away and it isn't associated with childhood recollections or even recent past recollections. It's something else entirely--a sense of a history that I am involved with almost entirely. That's why it's so odd. If it were D.C. or Fairfax or some place I had lived, that would be one matter. But it is just about any place in the state. It's really home--a historical center--something.

I don't tend toward nostalgia for places--usually for people and things--most particularly for penuche fudge--a type you almost can't find any more--or if it exists it's called by some name I can't recongize.





About this Entry

This page contains a single entry by Steven Riddle published on November 5, 2007 8:35 AM.

Request for Prayers was the previous entry in this blog.

Detachment á la Beck is the next entry in this blog.

Find recent content on the main index or look in the archives to find all content.

My Blogroll