That's one of the themes of the National Theatre of London's production of Travelling Light, which I saw yesterday in a movie theatre broadcast in San Francisco. (If you're a theatre buff, you should catch one of the National's broadcasts; they've all been excellent.)
It's a story line with which I strongly identify. As a kid and teen, I couldn't wait to leave my hometown of Greensboro, N.C. The homophobia I encountered at the time was a particularly strong motivator for getting the hell out of Dodge. But there was more to it than that. I was enamored with the idea of living in a Big City (particularly one on a coast), and I knew Greensboro could never deliver.
In my 20s and 30s, I traveled as often and as far as possible. At 29, I moved to San Francisco, about as far away as you can get from Greensboro (geographically and psychologically) and yet still live within the continental United States.
And then, in my 40s, something curious began to happen. I realized the majority of my travels were no longer to Big Cities and other lands. Most of the time, I was flying back to Greensboro and sometimes spending a full week there. Even more surprisingly, I discovered that I often looked forward to those visits.
It wasn't the sights and sounds of Greensboro that compelled me back; it was spending time with family and reconnecting with old friends. (Of course, the Cheerwine, Chick-Fil-A, and Stamey's Barbecue didn't hurt, either.) Finally, I'd stopped dismissing Greensboro for what it wasn't and appreciated it for what it was, and what it offered me.
I guess that's what happens to most people as they mature. We discover the truth in that old cliché, "No matter where you go, there you are."
|(c) Carol W. Martin|