Sense of place comes from within the heart

By Lynn Moncus

Last week was very special because I received letters from three former residents of Ima and enjoyed each word because most had to do with descriptions of their lives in that community when they were young. Although none of us lived there after we reached adulthood, all of us have retained our childhood memories and have thought of that place any time we have used the word home.
One friend doesn’t need any medication to help her sleep at night because she just starts thinking of the wonderful years she spent there, begins to relax, and falls into a pleasant sleep. Another has to go there when life becomes a bit too taxing elsewhere. She drives around in the area and recalls life as it once was. Although the third one rarely heads in that direction, she surrounds herself with pictures from her childhood and recalls the joys of living there.

We have asked each other through the years why that place has retained such a hold on our lives but have been unable to come up with a satisfactory answer for anyone who does not have such a place permanently installed in their hearts. We have discovered that few of our other friends have clung to a place as tenaciously as we have and have decided we really were the fortunate ones although others have looked at us as if we are more than a little strange.

We lived several miles apart and had little in common during our youth other than being from the same community. Because I am younger than they, they sort of thought of me as a brat until our later years when we became close friends. Once we could communicate as adults, we began to try to analyze our feelings and realized we had many similar experiences as far as chores and life in general were concerned. We also remained very close to our families and still like to talk about them whenever we have a chance. All of that is fine except nothing explains why we remain so attached to one place in our lives.

Until we became good friends, I thought the canyons were what made me aware of the real meaning of home, but none of the other three lived in those canyons and feel just as close to their places as I. We have discussed the happiness we enjoyed there but have had to admit that we have been happy in other places and with other people. We simply haven’t found the words to express our real feelings about such an important place in our lives, and we probably never will at this rate. We’ll just continue to travel there whether physically or mentally throughout the rest of our lives and will remain pleased that we have such a special place to which to retreat in times of need.

We’ll share our stories and pictures with each other because we know we also share special feelings. Who really cares whether or not we can explain those feelings? We know we have them and that they are very special to each of us. We’ll continue to enjoy our special feelings and won’t bother to try to explain them.