Home is so often an elusive concept. Much ink, of both the literal and digital variety, has been spilled in the attempt to make sense of what home is and what it is not. Songs have been written and movies made with the same goal in mind. I personally have written before about home, but I didn’t actually write about home itself, per se. That piece was more about my thoughts about being home in relation to what I had just done. Now I’d like to turn my thoughts more specifically to ‘home’.
I was struck while driving around town that I am genuinely glad to be here in Youngstown, Ohio. It’s my home, and in that moment while driving, I knew it. This area, with all of its beauty and ugliness and rust and history and character and diversity, truly felt like home. It always has been home, and no matter where I may go in the future, it will always be home. I’m grateful to say that I’m from Youngstown, Ohio.
I’ve done so much of my growth outside of this area code, and I wouldn’t be the same person sitting here writing this without the myriad experiences I’ve had around the US and abroad. Yet as much as I’ve grown elsewhere, I can’t ignore that I am still very much a product of this corner of the world.
There’s a lot to say about how one’s home and upbringing mold and shape that person, affecting all future growth and change that may occur elsewhere. I think of lenses and the way they impact the way one wearing them sees the world. Imagine eyeglasses that would allow one to stack lenses on top of each other. With each lens one adds, whether subtly or drastically, the way the world is seen is altered. With each new place lived or experience had, another lens is added. This is true of each of us in some way. Considering my own situation, I’ve lived and visited multiple places, and each of them colors the way I see my surroundings in some capacity. However, no matter how many places I visit and lenses I add to my vision, the ‘Youngstown lens’ will always be a part of my sight.
To use another analogy, I’m reminded of food that is grown only in a certain part of the world. It has qualities that come about because of its original locale. For example, wine experts refer to the terroir, which is the land where grapes used in winemaking grow. More than just the soil, it refers to the climate, weather, etc. that impact the growth, and ultimately the taste, of the grapes that are used to make wine.
Alternatively, there are certain foods that are grown and/or produced in many parts of the world, but they have specific qualities when they’re found in a specific region or part of the world. For example, there is a breed of potato called ‘La Bonnotte’ that is grown on an island off the coast of France. Potatoes are grown in many places around the world, but these potatoes can cost up to $320/lb. or $700/kg (according to this site). After harvesting, these potatoes are sent to other places and used in dishes where their flavors interact with the other ingredients of the recipe to create new textures and flavors. Yet these potatoes are still dependent on their origins and what these origins lend to their makeup to bring about these unique flavors.
I may go elsewhere. I already have. However, the way I have interacted and will continue to interact with the world is still due in large part to my growing up in northeast Ohio. Even if I visit or live in other places and do other things, I’ll never entirely cease to be a Midwestern boy from Youngstown, Ohio. This is and will be the way I both see and ‘flavor’ the world.
A pilgrimage is an intensely personal journey, but it is not one that a pilgrim undertakes alone. I don’t want to ‘talk’ into a vacuum. I want to hear other voices, too. What I’m trying to say is, I want feedback! Have I spoken something to you? Is there something you think I should know? Do you have a question about something I said? Please leave a comment below or contact me at Pilgrim.Brett@gmail.com.
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