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That Sense of Belonging

Musings on Life

By Mellie MillerPublished about a year ago 5 min read
That Sense of Belonging
Photo by Jim Makos on Unsplash

Many of you will know this feeling. The feeling of belonging somewhere. For many, it is their hometown, the place they grew up, went to school, made friends, and came back to.

This is the place where you feel like you're a part of it, and it is a part of you. You fit in with those around you. You love the environment, whether town or country, north or south, mountains or beaches. You know how things work there, how things operate. Who you can count on if you need help and who to avoid.

In some cases, your parents--maybe even grandparents--lived there, studied there, worked there, and settled there. You have a family tie to the past in this place. Your parents knew your friends parents and so on.

You grew up with the person you eventually married. Having known each other for your entire lives, there would be few surprises. During your childhood, you had played together, fought together, and become friends.

Later, of course, you avoided each other like the plague because, ewww...girls--or boys, depending.

High school came around and you dated. You went to homecoming and the prom together. No one was surprised. Everyone had known the two of you would get together. You fit.

If you went away to school, perhaps you and your girl/boyfriend went to the same school. Eventually you moved in together or got married and began to raise a family.

And once school was finished, you moved back to your hometown, the place where it had all started. You both had roots there. If you had children, your parents were happy to have them close so they could watch them grow up.

You belong.

But for some of us, this never happened. For one reason or another, the hometown feeling never took.

My parents weren't from my hometown. They came from a different area of the country entirely. They had no roots there, so they had none to share, like so many others in the area.

We were farming folks, which could be a problem in some parts of the country. There was always a feeling of being inferior if you were a farm kid, and an attitude of I'm-better-than-you from the town kids. Sure, they smiled and spoke to you, but you couldn't be in their circle.

Following a different, unknown religion was a factor as well.

I was an outsider.

And I couldn't wait to get away.

I went to college all the way across the country, but I didn't fit there either. I'm not a big city kind of girl. Too many people, too much traffic and noise. Cities are not for me.

So I met a guy at college, and when I graduated, I went back home, since I had nowhere else to go. He followed, we married, and moved to the middle of the country, to Wyoming, where he was working at the time.

And I fell in love. With the area. I loved the change of seasons, the winter extremes that challenge you to survive. I love the apparent desolation in the western part of the state, in the mountains. I could walk for twenty minutes and be outside of all intrusions of humanity.

It was marvelous.

But I still didn't fit. I was a transplant. While I didn't run into the town/country prejudice, I still didn't belong. I had no roots there.

Don't get me wrong. Everyone was friendly, helpful, and eager enough to bring you into their life, but there was something missing. Since there were a lot of transient people in the area, it wasn't as obvious most of the time. But I still didn't belong.

We could have put down roots there, I believe, but circumstances forced us to move on to another place where I once again didn't belong.

During the past decades, I have lived in eight different states, some of them more than once, and even though I've lived in this one for twenty years, I still don't belong. I'm not from here.

Or as they say, "You ain't from around here, are ya?"

We've lived in Wyoming three times, and each of those times we intended to stay. And each time something came along which forced us to move on.

Do I consider Wyoming home?

It's the closest thing to what I thing home should feel like. I still feel drawn to it. I would love to go back, if I had the opportunity.

But I will never belong there.

Perhaps you've seen Fiddler On The Roof. Do you remember the song Anatevka?

I have never felt quite that way, like there is someplace where I belong. A place where I am accepted for who and what I am. A place where I can look back and see my history, my roots. The place I know intimately and love.

I haven't been back to my "hometown" in forty-three years.

I don't want to go back. There is nothing there for me.

Yes, many of those people I knew in school are still there, and there a few of them I've connected with on social media, but we have next to nothing in common. Even less now than we did when I was there.

A sense of belonging.

A feeling I doubt I will ever quite understand.

A feeling I've never had and probably never will.

Where's your hometown?

Where do you belong?


About the Creator

Mellie Miller

Wife, mother, animal lover, musician, martial artist, writer of fantasy romance with a touch of magic, with seven books up on Amazon. I do a little bit of everything these days.

The cat approves.

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