Yesterday’s Indie 30 prompt was about home.
I’ve been away from home for just about 3 months now. Writing this is making me really nostalgic and maybe a little homesick, for the first time in Korea.
A great song that talks about home is “Home” by Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros. It says “let me go home, home is wherever I’m with you.” I’m fortunate enough that I’m traveling with my wonderful boyfriend, and that makes it a lot easier for anywhere I am to feel like home. But really, my true home is still back at my parents’ house.
I grew up in a really rural place, on the Virginia part of the Delmarva Peninsula – called the Eastern Shore of Virginia. Sometimes it’s not on US maps, and absolutely no one’s heard of it, even most people from the state of Virginia (although maybe you’ve heard of Chincoteague or Assateague? There’s a pony swim there. It’s sort of close to where I’m from.), even though it’s a 75 mile stretch of the state.
Not only is the Eastern Shore rural (and quite poor overall), but it’s also sort of isolated. At the southern tip, there’s a huge bridge tunnel going to Virginia Beach. The drive from Melfa, my hometown, is about an hour and half. Then there’s also a bridge across the Chesapeake Bay at Annapolis, Maryland – driving time from Melfa, approximately 3 hours. Growing up, the closest mall was an hour and a half drive north to Salisbury, Maryland, or the same distance to Virginia Beach (plus a hefty $17 round trip fee to use the CBBT, or Chesapeake Bay Bridge Tunnel).
Not only am I from a small town (about 400 residents, one stoplight while growing up – they’ve put in a new one though!), I went to an incredibly small school. The public schools on the Shore are fairly poor quality, so my parents sent me to a small private school, Broadwater Academy. It was pre-K through 12 and had about 400 students, total. 100 of those were in high school. My graduating class was 28 students. Needless to say, I knew everyone. A little too well. I definitely got a good head start for college, though – it was a good school. But now it always gets awkward when my Korean coteachers ask me what things are like in American public schools, and I have no idea.
Compared to my peers and most of the people I know from the Shore, my life has been a bit unusual. A lot of people don’t leave home much, if at all. Maybe they go to college in another part of Virginia then move back home afterwards. A lot of my old friends from home are already getting married and “settling down.”
I think a lot of people from my area would not understand why I could want to travel so much, and live in another country long-term. Most of my classmates didn’t study abroad in college, even. Perhaps that’s partially due to not being able to afford it – but they tended to be a bit on the wealthier side (mostly middle class or upper middle class), so that’s probably not the whole story.
So where did my wanderlust come from? My parents don’t feel the need to travel abroad. But they do like to travel. Growing up we went to the Maryland Eastern Shore and other parts of Virginia all the time. Now they’ve got Harleys and they go all over the place – Florida, West Virginia, North Carolina, etc. They are considering going to South Dakota for the big bike rally there. So they definitely instilled in me a sense of adventure.
My grandfather used to travel a lot for business, and in 9th grade he took my cousin and I to Paris and London where we went around with my grandmother while he was at the Paris Air Show. Then my school also had an annual trip abroad for spring break. I went on both the Italy trip in 10th grade and the Costa Rica trip in 11th grade. A large part of the school went on the Italy trip, so yes, most of my classmates had traveled before. But it seems like that one (maybe two) trip was enough for them. Not for me. I’ve wanted to travel abroad ever since then.
I’m really not sure why the travel bug hit me and not them. Maybe like so many people I meet they just don’t think of traveling long-term as a viable option. I was talking to some people the other day about the movie Eat Pray Love. Bear in mind that these were all people in Korea teaching for a year. Still, they said things like, “who could just quit their jobs and travel for a year?” My response was, plenty of people… look at all those travel blogs out there!
Anyway, that’s beside the point. I have mixed feelings about growing up where I did. When I got to college I realized many of my new friends were a bit more ‘worldly’ than me. A lot of them spoke multiple languages. I went to a school that was overwhelmingly white. These different people with vastly different life stories than me, various worldviews, and sometimes even different cultures entirely, absolutely fascinated me. I still really enjoy meeting people who see the world a different way. I think that’s why I went into Anthropology as my major.
Where I’m from, though, has its perks. It’s often beautiful. I got to grow up riding and owning horses (in fact, horses were my whole life until about 10th grade, and then they were still pretty important until I went off to college). That’s probably why I never became much of a partier, and I’m glad of that. It’s peaceful and relaxing (…some would say boring). I grew up with a big backyard with dogs in it. My dad has a boat and I went fishing pretty often. I gained a love of nature that I still have.
I know that my home shaped who I am today. It’s still a nice place to escape to (or well, it was when I was living in DC) when the city gets overwhelming. The ESVA will always have a place in my heart.