What I'm Reading | Staying Put

Growing up in a small town in Vermont, there was a pervading narrative that success for the young people in town meant that upon graduation they would leave for bigger and better destinations.  Having moved on myself, I only recently started questioning that measure of success.  One of my dear friends from childhood has moved back to our small town, and is teaching dance classes at the very same studio where we took ballet together when we were twelve.  She has a house, a family, a child, a garden.  I hadn't thought about the possibility of moving back home until I visited her recently, and was overtaken by a wave of need to return to my roots.  

Thus my theme this month of loving Rhode Island.  I was easily swept up in envisioning myself in the green mountains, forgetting that I've lived in Providence for eight years now, and have a whole life happening here.  

Though I've lived in Rhode Island for eight years, I find it easy to tell myself that I don't actually belong here, that I'm some kind of visitor.  Especially as a twenty-something, there is this idea that only possibilities lie ahead, and I can live wherever I'd like, move whenever I get bored of this place and then the next one.  I always have one foot out the door.

Last week, I came across a book called Staying Put: Making a Home in a Restless World by Scott Russell Sanders.  It's a beautifully written love letter to putting down roots in a place, and of making a commitment to a house, a neighborhood, and a community in the same way that the author thinks of his commitment to his marriage.  The idea of having that kind of groundedness really appeals to me, and I've been taken with his lyrical reasonings.  

He argues that in American culture, we tend to be a nation of "restless movers"; from the beginning, our "Promised land has always been over the next ridge or at the end of the trail, never under our feet" (104). He writes:
If the shine goes off our marriage, our house, our car, do we trade it for a new one?  If the fertility leaches out of the soil, the creativity out of our job, the money out of our pocket, do we start over somewhere else?  There are voices enough, both inner and outer, urging us to deal with difficulties by pulling up stakes and heading for new territory...I wish to raise here a contrary voice, to say a few words on behalf of standing your ground, confronting the powers, going deeper. (102)
In turning my focus to all of the wonderful things going on in my now home state, along with reading this book (so far, I'm halfway through), I'm starting to see my future right here.  With all the goodness around me and the community that I've created for myself, I'm thinking of putting down my roots right here.  Or at least, in a new apartment close by that has some grass.  There's still a lot of Vermont in this girl, after all.  

What about you?  Have you put down roots or do you feel restless?



  1. I guess I have always felt rooted...which is nice. It's good to know where home is. Funny for someone who has invested so much of her life in studying a foreign culture to feel that way, huh?

  2. For very selfish reasons, I am glad you're considering staying :)

    I think it took until I thought about leaving Rhode Island that I finally considered it my home, and my future, at the same time. It didn't hurt to find someone who was very much rooted here too. I thought it might be a "pit stop" to somewhere bigger and brighter and more exciting - but I found my bigger and brighter here, and I'm excited to discover that in the future too.

  3. Well said, Erin. : )

    And you're right Erica - it IS good to know where home is!


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