Dreaming in Character

G.L. Jackson

Places and People

12 Comments

Do you think the places we inhabit in our everyday lives inform and shape who we are? How quickly do you think this happens?

We’ve been in our new home for a little over three weeks now, although technically I’m still a resident of my old home too. I feel different here. Not like a whole new person, but the same one slightly shifted. Maybe it’s the difference in weather or atmosphere. Maybe it’s the fact that I’m still uncertain as far as knowing my way around goes. But before I moved, I never let not knowing directions or the roads stop me.

To be quite honest, I haven’t let that stop me here either. As I told my neighbor the other day, my world at the moment is pretty small… but it’s getting bigger. I’m a writer, I work from home. I gather inspiration from everything around me. I live on the edge of a regional park where people come and go at all hours of the day and night. Getting used to new noises and smells and sounds is all part of the experience of moving. The birds here are different. By and large, people are friendlier. It’s a west coast thing.

I look on this all as being at the center of a series of concentric circles. Each time I broaden my world, the circles widen to accommodate that. There are a number of traps I could easily fall into here, but I refuse to do it. Right now my focus is on taking someone else’s home and making it ours and that is no small chore. The previous owners lived here for thirty years. I never got the chance to meet them, but the neighbors all seem to be quite fond of them.

It’s only been three weeks. Life is not a contest, except with ourselves. Every location is its own lifestyle, and the longer we stay there the more we adapt. We can’t help but be changed by the immediate world around us.

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I wonder, though, if my cats feel the same way.

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Author: G.L. Jackson

Writer, reader, amateur photographer. Mostly, I just like pretending to be a different person each day of the week.

12 thoughts on “Places and People

  1. I think you’re definitely onto something. I know with my moves, my new settings, I’m a different person, while still the same.

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    • It struck me today how I just don’t feel the same. Obviously, I’m still me, but half a step removed. I should check back in on it in a few more months. Maybe it’s too soon to be making statements like that, I don’t know.

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  2. I think our environments affect us as much as we affect them.

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  3. I am sure we are influence by the environment we live. It changes us over time. But I also think it works the other way around too. We change our environment, most obviously in a new house we move into, but I also believe the grander sphere that our lives are part of.

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  4. I love the circles idea of how places we live change us and we change them. Since moving back East, I’ve been feeling better in a lot of ways though there are things I miss about where I spent the last year. I think its one of those fascinating and tricky questions that defines being human.

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  5. I’ve been mulling this before answering, and I am of a different experience: we were wanderers. I grew up with the firm belief that three years was too long in a house and we often stayed only a year or less. I was comfortable with this. I did not care for the unpleasant necessity of moving out, but I always adored moving in. This house is the longest I’ve stayed anywhere, going on eight years, I think.

    Because of this, I am remarkably self-contained. My environment has little effect on me, but my home environment—my family, my household, my home church—those are hurricanes, not ripples, when they change.

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    • I think we’re largely in agreement, despite different circumstances. I grew up in a house where my parents stayed for 40 years. I was in my last house for more than 20, not that I’d planned on it at all. I know when I used to move around a lot, during and after college, I wasn’t as affected by moving. It was just another thing that had to be done, over and over.

      Today I told my husband that I still felt like we were on an extended vacation. I know that feeling will fade over time, but for the moment I’m chalking it up to getting used to the differences. There’s also a whole different identity that goes with being “a Californian” as opposed to “an Oregonian.” Right now, I’m an Oregonian in California. I realize that will morph too, but it’s going to take a while.

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  6. Definitely! Because people adapt to where they are, by will, by reflex or by force.

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