The Call of Place


“Loch Lomond, Scotland”

Why do certain locations draws us to them?  What makes a place feel like home even if we’ve never lived there?

I’ve experienced this phenomena a few times, but never so strongly as in Scotland.  For decades, it drew me., though I’ve no idea why.  Past life?  Racial memory?  Psychosis?  Pick your answer; I’m clueless.  But if you cut me, I bleed tartan.  (Bearing in mind that the tartan — so I’ve read — is a recent event, historically speaking.  Excuse me my metaphor.)

If you dig back far enough in my family tree (1287), you’ll strike Scottish blood (or the first mention of it, at any rate).  Muriel Douglas, daughter of William Douglas of Lanarkshire and Margaret Mor of Fife.  Is it her blood that calls to me across the centuries?

In 2007, my husband and I (and our good friends, Pam and Mack Hohmann) travelled to Scotland.  When I got off the plane in Glasgow, I felt an electric charge, a connection to the very ground beneath my feet.  Call me daft if you must, but I swear I heard-felt the words “Well, there you are, at last.  Where’ve you been?  Welcome home.”  There’s no “rational” explanation for the sense of belonging I felt then or the depth of homesickness I’ve felt since returning to the States.  Well, it’s said that the Celts are touched.  Perhaps this proves it.

“Pam getting happy in Newburyport”

On a slightly smaller scale is my attraction for Newburyport and Plum Island, MA.  Again, there’s no explanation.  Both places first came onto my radar courtesy of a friend from college., and it was love at first sight.  (I’ve since infected Pam, I’m happy to say.)

I never feel like a tourist in Newburyport or PI.  I know the layout of the streets, where the post office is, the better restaurants and shops, and I never feel turned around or confused.  It doesn’t hurt that Pam and I long-ago “appropriated” the area for a series of stories we wrote together.  It also doesn’t hurt that over the years we’ve spent time mapping the place with our feet, walking every side alley and cemetary we can find.  Maybe that’s what makes it feel like home.

It’s not such a bad thing, though, to travel from the routine only to find yourself coming home while you’re away.

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About Melissa Crandall

Longer ago than I care to admit--although I will--I cut my writing teeth on fanzines and media tie-in novels. Since then, I've moved on to narrative nonfiction, speculative fiction, and essays. I write to explore and understand the world around me, the things I see and experience nearby or from a distance. If I shake myself up, cool. If I shake you up, even better. Not gratuitously--what's the point in that?--but to set what I know, or think I know, on end and realize, "Well, doesn't it look different from this side!" My work is neither sexually explicit nor graphically violent. Let's face it - your imaginations will come up with things far worse than anything I could write, no matter how descriptive. Besides, it's just not my thing. I live in Connecticut with my supportive husband Ed, a cat named Ruby who might just think she's a dog, and an epileptic Australian shepherd named Holly who isn't quite certain anymore who she is, except she knows she loves her mommy.
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