Whilst in Maine last week with my family, my sister Beth and I were paddleboarding at dusk one day around the little cove of Pocasset Lake where our cabins are, when we noticed a very loud and large splash — abnormally large for a turtle or fish — but definitely too small for a human. Hmm. Soon after, we spotted two little brown noses jutting out of the water, gliding in smooth circles interspersed with splashes, coming from the same area. One of the curious little beavers came within 10 feet of Beth’s paddleboard, circling and eyeing us intently, bold and unalarmed. It was the cutest thing I’d seen in a long time; but despite going back to the same area at the same time the next night, we only saw the little beavers once.
Maine is probably the place on earth with the most sentimentality for my family and me. What used to be every summer — and with age and distance has become sporadic summers — the week that my family spent each year at our lakehouse in Wayne, Maine, has become timeless and infinite. These were weeks of endless, strewn-together days and nights of swimming, ice cream, cousins, waterskiing, lounging and tanning. People changed and grew up, lives were otherwise busy and eventful, milestones like weddings, kids, deaths and big moves came and went, but Wayne, Maine and Pocasset Lake has always been.
The osprey, the Great Blue Herons, the beavers, the kayaks and canoes and dress-ups, the General Store pizza or Five Islands lobster, the gentle hum of the motorboat on a sunny, lazy afternoon — these memories and the people I always spent them with — are bottled up and will be stored forever in the creaking, mouse-nibbled floorboards of Robmir and fraying, taped-together ropes securing the boats to the dock. The beauty and power of memory — and especially the power of a certain place to hold, for years upon years — memories that bring an entire family, an intergenerational, transnational family together — is nothing short of magical.
This is turning out to be basically just a post for me to reminisce on my family memories and how lucky I was to take a summer trip to Maine this year, particularly. However, I find myself moving in the next couple weeks to a new apartment in LA — what may be my 6th move in 4 years — and I can’t help but contrast that transience with the longevity and meaning of a family “home.”
What creates a sense of home or what makes a place a home?
I think people and memory have a lot to do with it. When a location, a building, a structure holds sentimentality and memories, it is much more than simply a place. And normally, those memories are associated with people and moments. Do you have places, spaces or ordinary structures in your life that mean much more to you because of the people and memories that you associate them with? What does “home” look like for you?
This post-college, yuppie, Trader Joe’s frozen food and IKEA plant version of myself is still struggling to find “home” in Los Angeles, and yet, in so many beautiful ways, this city has certainly become my home. Despite the transient lifestyle I’ve acquired and the changing scenery and friend groups every year or so, pieces of my ethno-cultural identity do feel much more secure and able to grow, question and develop themselves here than in other parts of the US or world that I’ve lived.
But is that “home”?
It is certainly something — and looking both behind and ahead as I consider this next move, I hope that my life continues to align itself toward and around creating — albeit an ever-elusive — sentiment that this (wherever I am in any given time or place) is “home.”
Maybe “home” in this season of life can be created through rhythms and patterns of slowing down, or being intentional, or cultivating meaningful moments and relationships. Because when I think about what makes the Frederich family lakehouse on Pocasset, in a random town in rural Maine, so special, it’s those exact things. The meaning comes with longevity and time, but it comes primarily because of the people, patterns and memories associated with that time. And if we don’t always have the luxury of owning a property or inhabiting a space for any extended period of time, especially as a young person in Los Angeles, then can we still create “home” and meaning and memory through rhythms and people — even if they are geographically changing or moving within or across a city?
I think so; I want to at least hope so.