on claiming a place.

On my last week in Massachusetts, the very edges of the sugar maples had started to turn orange. I noticed on my daily walk down main street (actually, the very same tree that I took a photo of my first year). And it was strange to find it so familiar, to know what was coming from that season.

I remember once, crammed in the back seat of a car, talking to a friend from my theory class. We were on the long winding back-road between Amherst and Northampton, and he asked me how I liked New England. Before I even answered, I asked where he was from. He responded that he'd moved there from Brooklyn. 

And there was something about that answer - that very particular city - that made me think he'd understand. So, I started to unload all of the secret worries I had, about leaving and losing my city.  I felt like I'd been in the right place for once in my life, then I left it. I suspected it was a mistake not to buy a house when the market was good. I missed my chance to claim Portland as mine, forever. 

When my voice started to crack I asked him: "how long can you live in a place before you have say you're from there?"

He knew what I meant, because he shook his head in disagreement: "Amherst is not a thing" he said. Amherst wasn't a place you claim like Brooklyn or Portland. It doesn't demand you trade in your membership. So I lived knowing that I could have them both. That it was only two years, and I could love that liminal place deeply without ever having to choose.

But, here I am now in Seattle. This is where I'll be until I'm a year past thirty. And Seattle -- Seattle is a thing. People have their allegiances. On Sunday even the busses light-up with the blinking words "Go Seahawks."

So even in the moments I think I could love this city, there's this lingering fear about what I'm losing. By the time I'm done here, I'll have lived in Seattle longer than Massachusetts and Portland combined.  Those big, significant cities will just be short dashes on a timeline.  And Seattle, regardless of where my heart is, will be my home...

(photo) on iPhone + vsco | the house on King St. in Northampton.


  1. I heard on the radio saying that they 'lived in London for a month' and to me, I thought a month was just visiting. Maybe though, it's not always the time passed but what you go through that make you 'live' in a place or claim a place or feel at home. xx

  2. love the way you write. i move a lot too, all my life. where is home? i'm almost there, settling down, sort of. :)

  3. I am an American man, and I have decided to boycott American women. In a nutshell, American women are the most likely to cheat on you, to divorce you, to get fat, to steal half of your money in the divorce courts, don’t know how to cook or clean, don’t want to have children, etc. Therefore, what intelligent man would want to get involved with American women?

    American women are generally immature, selfish, extremely arrogant and self-centered, mentally unstable, irresponsible, and highly unchaste. The behavior of most American women is utterly disgusting, to say the least.

    This blog is my attempt to explain why I feel American women are inferior to foreign women (non-American women), and why American men should boycott American women, and date/marry only foreign (non-American) women.



  4. This is a beautiful post, thank you for sharing. I'm going through similar emotions – I've lived in London for two and half years, before that was in Brooklyn (leaving that was painful which is a story for another time), and am now moving back home to thee South – North Carolina to be specific. I think and write about self identity and place a lot, so it was a pleasure reading this!


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