Are You a Somewhere Person?Feb 17, 2022
I met a woman earlier this week and shared a quick but inadvertently deep conversation. I asked where home for her was. She looked at me confounded. She told me where she lived but it was not home. She’s a West Coast person living on the East Coast. Her husband is an East Coast person. She’s a somewhere person living out of place.
Home is a physical composite of our country, region, metropolitan area, neighborhood, streets, and physical dwelling, but it is much more. It has economic, psychological, and social dimensions – and it is also a feeling. We are at our best when we have an attachment to our place. Living somewhere but never having a sense of home can be reason enough to move. Home is where the heart is.
One of the benefits of longevity, particularly those with financial means, is to think about life in terms of chapters with each chapter offering the opportunity to change places. This can be alluring and exciting. However, it also be deceptive. If you are a somewhere person – someone who has a strong tie to a particular place – a move away from your home can be precisely the wrong thing to do, no matter how enticing improved weather and a lower of cost of living, for example, can be.
A Small Town with Memories and Friendships can be Home for a Somewhere Person
Merging with Our Place
What might initially seem like a choice of place can transform into a steadfast commitment to place. In essence, we merge with our place, and uprooting ourselves becomes incredibly painful, if not impossible. Author, poet, and environmentalist Wendell Berry sums it up when he says:
And so I came to belong to this place. Being here satisfies me. I had laid my claim on the place and had made it answerable to my life. Of course you can’t do that and get away free. You can’t choose it seems without being chosen. For the place in return had laid its claim on me and had made my life answerable to it.
I admire people who have committed to a place, particularly where they have invested in their communities for the better. These people tend to benefit from deep relationships and a strong support network. While the passage of time is helpful, these people need not have spent their entire life in one location. This commitment to place can happen later in life, but it does require intentionality.
My friends, Fred and Carol Smith, made a commitment to place in their mid-30s. While passing through East Texas, Fred had a premonition the region would be their future home. His vision was accurate. After stops in the West and Northeast, the Smiths relocated to Tyler, Texas, a city about 100 miles southeast of Dallas. When they moved in the 1980s, the population was approximately 75,000 people. Today, it exceeds 100,000.
The Smiths moved for a job opportunity for Fred, but they sensed something more significant was afoot. Tyler represented a community large enough to attract interesting people and support growing organizations, but small enough to get to know others personally and be able to make a tangible impact. Fred later left the job that brought them to Tyler and switched to a role focused on community building. For more than three decades, Fred and Carol, separately and together, have invested in relationships and causes to help make Tyler a better place. Their efforts have had an impact on public schools, not-for-profits, women’s circles, business networks, churches, and more.
Now in their 70s, Fred and Carol have no intention of leaving Tyler. They can’t. Their ties are too strong. Their story is too interwoven with that of their community. Place has laid claim on them. Their opportunity is to continue to live in community as they age.
North End in Carmel, IN Aims to Create a Human-Centered Community for All Ages (Source: Hamilton County Reporter)
More Housing Options for Somewhere People
Somewhere people may still need to move at some point but it will likely be within their greater communities. Fortunately, options are emerging that live between single-family homes and senior living. Age-friendly and intergenerational developments make it easier for older adults to live among people of all ages. Zoning policies are loosening in an increasing number of municipalities which makes it more possible to create accessible dwelling units (ADUs). Somewhere people need to be aware of the risks of aging in place but it can be more feasible if there is a network of social connections.
Are you a somewhere person? Be honest. If you are, you can save the hassle of chasing dreams of homes that aren’t for you or it can be a driver for change to get to your somewhere place. It’s comforting when where you live is truly your home.
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