Somewhere I Belong

by Susan Pogorzelski on September 20, 2010 · 11 comments

The house is quiet now and my, my heart is full…
I turn out the light and I whisper goodnight
And I know, this is where I belong…
-
Rachel Proctor, “Where I Belong”

I’m in love.

Butterflies of excitement awaken with the sun each morning, followed by a sigh of contentment as I settle in to sleep each night. Every day, it feels like there is so much more to learn, to discover — some adventure that I haven’t yet experienced but that I’m only too eager to embark on. Every step takes me closer to the knowledge that I’m living a dream, surrounded by people who help make that dream a reality; every wave, every chat, every warm, smile-filled greeting alights my heart and tells me that, yes, maybe this is what I’ve been waiting for.

And maybe, just maybe, this is what meant to be.

I don’t know how it happened, exactly. Oh, I made all the right moves — I planned and analyzed and questioned the possibilities; I reflected, I calculated, I wondered “what if“ and “could it be?” I paused, I hesitated, I thought, “this is crazy.”

But life has a funny way of pushing you forward, right into the arms of something wonderful, something that, though you could have imagined it — though you may have even dreamed it — even you couldn’t expect the reality of it.

Sometime, in that vague space between then and now, I fell in love with a house, a town, a life that I still can’t quite believe I get to call my own.

And for the first time — possibly ever — I’m not questioning what I did to deserve it or worrying about what will make that change; for the first time, I’m not thinking about everything I’ve lost and wondering if I’ll lose something that has become so dear to me again.

For the first time, I’m appreciating what I have right now, in this moment…and what it has taken to get here.

Dear friends came up to visit me for the weekend; we spent Saturday afternoon on a quick tour of Lancaster before walking the streets of Lititz. Among the shuffling of our sneakers against the pavement, the sound of the church bell marking the time in the distance, and children’s shouts echoing in the park, I couldn’t help but feel that I suddenly belonged, that maybe I had always belonged in this little town that my neighbor claims to be Mayberry, that friends and I joke is my very own Stars Hollow, only, I hadn’t known it.

Growing up nearby in the suburbs of Lancaster County, reading books like A Tree Grows In Brooklyn and Little House on the Prairie and watching movies like Pollyanna and, yes, TV shows like Gilmore Girls, the idea of being able to walk everywhere, of having a place where “everybody knows your name,” was always more than appealing. The towns in those books and on television seemed so old-fashioned and quaint, frozen and marked for a better time, a better place –  a small piece of history that was never forgotten.

It was something I dreamed of, but I wondered if it was only a dream or if such a place could possibly exist.

I wanted to go away to college after high school, that much I knew for certain — away,  but still close enough that it didn’t feel so far away. I fell in love with a small college town nestled in the middle of the mountains, a river winding its way alongside railroad tracks and roads, among between trees and dormitories. It was that picturesque landscape I was looking for — that walk-everywhere, wave-hello, become-a-regular type college town that was big enough, but not-too-big, located between the much, much larger We Are Penn State and the city of Williamsport. It was idyllic, it was quaint, it was everything I wanted from a college experience.

It made four years away from home feel like I was right at home.

Then, I graduated. And suddenly, I wanted more than anything to move away, to experience the hustle and bustle of a big city with large crowds and constant conversation; I craved the adventure and everyday excitement that I envisioned life in a big city to be, the life that everyone talked about: I imagined catching up on reading on the subway, meeting new people in coffee shops  (never mind the fact that I don’t like coffee), climbing the corporate ladder at a respected publishing house. I wanted to move. I needed to move. If I wanted to be any form of successful in a career — in my life, as I so naively thought — I needed to be anywhere but where I was.

To Boston. To San Francisco. To New York. To DC. I applied to jobs and grad schools blindly — anything and everything that would give me that start to my career, to the life of an adult that I was so eager to lead…

A life that belonged to someone else, and not to me.

I was so eager to grow up and become the person — the adult — that I’d always wanted to be, the adult that I thought I should be, that I lost sight of everything I valued.

I lost sight of myself.

When I was sixteen, I traveled to France on a high school trip and fell in love with everything belonging to that country — the history, the architecture, the art, the food. As we passed by sunflower fields in the countryside and toured the museums and cathedrals of Paris, I felt that sense of excitement and adventure bubbling forth, like a new love that had just been discovered. I was far away, but I was home.

When I went to London with my best friend a year after we graduated college, I felt exhilarated by all that there was to experience, but I missed my dog, I missed my family, I missed home.

And when I went back to France two years ago, to a quiet writing retreat in a sleepy village in the mountains, I fell in love with the solitude and warmth that a small town has to offer all over again.

I found myself — through travel I rediscovered this love of adventure, a love of the wonder that is everything exciting and new.

And yet, upon my return, I discovered just how important it is for me to have a place to come back to, a place to call home.

A strong community means everything, and getting to know new local friends through social media has helped me to understand just how special this place that I’ve always known truly is.

Living so close to my family and some of my oldest and dearest friends, working in the center of Lancaster City, and going home to the charm of small-town Lititz, it feels like I have the best of  every world right in the heart Lancaster County.

Right where my heart belongs.

Right now, right where I belong.

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{ 6 comments… read them below or add one }

Sam Karol September 20, 2010

You have this uncanny ability to express everything so beautifully! I’m so, so glad that you feel like you belong and that your new home, your new adventure, is everything you wanted it to be. You totally deserve all the happiness in the world!

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Susan Pogorzelski October 4, 2010

Thanks, Sam! Sometimes, even now, I can’t quite believe that this dream has come true. In fact, if you want to know a secret, sometimes I walk through the rooms and think, my god, I love this house. =P

Truly, though, I’ve realized that I am so very, very blessed and lucky, and while there are times when I wonder what I did to deserve it, I know, too, that I do, that I’ve worked hard and made my own way. Just like your blog post today, maybe I need to learn to accept this happiness as my own…

Thanks so much, Sam — your words means the world to me!

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Positively Present September 20, 2010

This is amazing. It’s so great to hear that you feel as if you are right where you belong. There’s not a better feeling in the world than that!

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Susan Pogorzelski October 4, 2010

Truth be told, it has taken a long, long time to get here, to find this, to feel this…but you’re right — there is no greater feeling, and I hope to savor it for as long as I can. Thanks, Dani!

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Anna September 20, 2010

We spend so much time thinking about the future. It took me a long time to realize that it isn’t a static thing–yesterday’s future is not today’s future. The future will never be anything but a fantasy–we all live in the present, whether we want to or not.

I spent many years wishing I could move to New York, or London. I’ve spent the equivalent of weeks thinking about going to grad school for publishing, living the kind of life you see in the movies–move to a big city, meet your friendly and eccentric neighbor, get an instant circle of friends, meet the guy of your dreams and even though it seems like your worlds couldn’t be further apart, you come together and fall in love…

And though I can’t attribute my life not going in that general direction to anything but lack of courage, and though I never thought I would have stayed in Georgia this long after college, let alone bought a house here–I’m glad. I’m glad I met my husband. I’m glad I went to work where I did. I’m glad I bought my house. I’m glad I’ve learned to love my family in a way I never knew how before.

And though I still think about living a different life, in a different city, with new and exciting people…I know that life is never better “there” than “here”–and no matter where you are, there is always somewhere else to be. That’s the one sorrow of living in our enormous world.

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Susan Pogorzelski October 4, 2010

Anna: I love how you say yesterday’s future is not today’s future — what an amazing thought! It’s funny — I always knew that you and I were so similar in our dreams and even our lives, but I never realized just how much until now: I wanted to be anywhere but here, researching places to live in San Fran, Boston, New York…even London and Paris. But nothing felt right because it wasn’t home. And home is here. And here is where my family is, where my friends are, and where my heart is.

I think I could have lived that life — that life that you say is like the movies — but I don’t think it would have been my life. Look at where we are now — look at where you are, meeting your husband, buying your house, loving your family…Those are amazing things, the things that, I’ve come to realize, are what matters.

Something you’ve helped me learn through your comment is that you make your own home, no matter where you are. And nothing can match that. While there may always be somewhere else to be, I’m realizing that I can be satisfied — happy, ecstatic, dare I say it, right where I am. Because right here is where I really belong. Maybe not for good, but at least, for now.

Thank you so much for such a beautiful and insightful comment — can’t wait to catch up!

Susan

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