My University has a number of international campuses, and I met some of my best friends while spending my junior year in Geneva, Switzerland. Several of my friends in college studied abroad twice: first in Europe, and then in Thailand. I missed out on Thailand, but I heard enough about it that I felt as though I had gone myself.
Upon graduation, those friends talked wistfully about moving back to Thailand to kick-start their adult lives, and from there, maybe on to China, Australia, and Botswana. More than anything, they wanted adventure. I was horrified. Not by the international ambitions of my friends, but by the lack of a desire to put down any roots. I couldn’t wait to feel rooted. I wanted to start my adult life in a community where I could build friendships that would last a lifetime. And not just the kind of friends that you email, but the kind who check on you every day as you get up in years. To me, building a lasting connection with a community was the biggest adventure that I could imagine.
At the time, I figured I would do that in San Francisco. And after college, my boyfriend and I did move to San Francisco to put down some roots. As it turned out, he rooted, and I didn’t. After five years in the Bay Area, I had had it with the homogeneity of the political scene, and the complete lack of thunderstorms. I tried again by trying to put roots down where I grew up. In St. Louis. To me, moving home was the greatest adventure. It was part time-machine because I was getting back to the places where my ancestors had settled, and part service-mission because there is so much to accomplish in St. Louis’ civic frontier as compared with San Francisco. I couldn’t wait to join the already strong movement of nonprofits and individuals making a difference in the social and environmental fabric of St. Louis.
Over the last several years, I have immensely enjoyed working with those nonprofits and individuals. But something else has been cultivated too. An intensification of my love of history. I am a no holds barred social history NERD. There are, I think, obvious connections between a love of history and a desire to put down roots. In Missouri, my roots go back more or less 150 years. I need to check exact numbers with my cousin, but I’m hoping I’ll have plenty of time to do that in the months and years to come. My family has owned property in the same part of Northern Missouri for the duration of those years. When I visit the family farm, I feel connected not only to my family, and to the land, but I also feel more in tune with what life might have been like before I was born. I hope to explore that feeling more in the future as well.
I have always felt that putting down roots was the ultimate adventure. I can’t say for sure that I will put down permanent roots in the small town to which I am headed. But I can say that I’m getting closer to my family’s roots, and that takes my adventure of moving home even deeper. My family farm is my favorite place on earth. I have dreamed of moving to a smaller community for years. I can’t think of a better adventure to plan for myself.