I was just thinking about how where I grew up and have lived for most of my life is a huge impact and influence on how I see things…and how I go about practice.
See, I’m very lucky to grow up in Washington state. I love it here. There’s so many different things, different environments. We’ve got forests, desert, farmland, coast, sweeping mountains, rivers, lakes, sounds and oceans, rainforest…everything you can think of. And it’s all within a maximal 5 hour drive. Not to mention one of the most beautiful mountain-views anywhere (my opinion): Mt. Rainier. That’s my favorite thing. Living in western Washington, it’s great when on clear days we can see the mountain. And sometimes it’s just so impressive looking, because it looks like it’s fake–a graphic pasted onto the blue sky.
That got me thinking into what exactly my home environment has to do with me as a practitioner/polytheist. I mean, in terms of witchcraft, there’s not a lot. I just mostly dabble there. And admittedly, there aren’t a lot of things that draw my total interest there. But…I guess the massive rainstorms, overcast weather, and quick changes in weather are somewhat good tempermental-wise for me. It kind of matches with my usual personality. Not that I’m completely off it; but I do have a lot of times where I’m quickly shifting between needs, emotions, and concentrations on my work.
But then…there’s something about growing up here. It’s something that I found in Germany, in the Black Forest. It’s similar there, very similar; but more sunny and warmer on average. Still, there’s an atmosphere near Freiburg that is very similar to the Seattle-Tacoma area of Washington. I felt at home there in Germany, like I actually belonged.
When I’ve visited other parts of the States, I’ve realized that this atmosphere doesn’t exist elsewhere. Down in Las Vegas, Nevada and Utah–it’s too dry and brown. I know that different parts of the Southwest are colorful and more…well, alive, like I expect having grown up in the land of evergreens. But I just haven’t seen those. And quite frankly desert does not appeal to me. I was miserable while I was visiting my friend in Nevada. Everything was sandy, brown, tan; there was no green and cool breezes following a rain shower. Hell, even rain showers were miserable, because all they did was make the air hot and humid, and full of water. With curly hair, humid is terrible. And California, every part I’ve been in (from San Francisco to the outskirts of LA and San Diego) is just busy and overwhelmed. It isn’t natural, not in the same way that it is here in Washington. I’m not denying these areas are alive, I know they are. But they’re just completely different from what I grew up with. Texas is too humid, too hot; and it feels empty to me. Like, it’s just too big for what is there. Idaho and Montana are cold, for me. They just don’t have a warmth of welcome that I recognize and can work with. Western Oregon is close to western Washington in atmosphere, not quite the same, but similar enough that I could see being at home there.
So really, I came to the realization that I need to live in a place like western Washington. There’s not another place identical, but there are places similar. And I need to be in a place like this, to thrive and be myself. The bright green, the growing things, the rain and the storms. The smell of saltwater off the Puget Sound. It’s all just part of me. I grew up here, and it’s really not home unless I’m in a place like this. Well, ideally here. But I could make home in a place with this kind of atmosphere. It’s busy here, but not overwhelmingly so, not on the outskirts. And I live so close that I can escape off to the coast within 2-3 hours, or off into the Cascades to go to the mountains within 45minutes to an hour. There’s so many things to do, so close, that it’s kind of fun. It’s a new escape anytime. And then there’s the old, abandoned areas to visit, too.
It’s a bit of a late realization, perhaps. But it’s quick for me to realize that I can be comfortable in a place like this. So it is a good realization that I had to leave this area to understand. Because even living in Freiburg was not the same as here. Close, wonderful…comfortable even. But not the same. And then visiting family in other states has taught me that I am not really myself or comfortable in different environments. I can’t explain what it is about Washington state that’s so wonderful…it’s just something that it is, after having grown up here. So regional preferences, and regional comfort, are a new, interesting thing I’m kind of looking more into.∗