04 Jan Just Follow the Yellow Brick Road
I don’t see myself as from just any one place. In fact, when somebody poses the question—“So, where are you from?”—I freeze like a deer in headlights because such a question just seems so abstract. If you mean—“Where did you grow up?”—I would have to say that my most authentic self was carved out in Colorado, in my 21st year, the mountains a back-drop for my unfolding. Or do you mean—where were you raised?—because I was raised on the Schuylkill River which ran behind my grandparent’s house in Berks County, and in my high school German classroom where my world suddenly grew larger, and in South Philadelphia after I ventured off to college for the first time knowing little of what to expect… My identity has been forged by forces sometimes connected to geography, but mostly, I’ve been shaped by my perpetual rebirth and my regular leaps of faith. As some divine plan would have it, many winding roads have brought me here to Lancaster, alongside my partner, John, a place I rode horses as a girl and the place we now call “home.”
Lancaster, a declaration of my independence—the first home I have chosen, whereas other homes seemed to have chosen me. Lancaster, a close likeness to a Colorado-kind-of-town, the Amish influence slowing things down in a West-Coast way. Happy and hip families contribute to a blossoming culture of consciousness, small businesses abound, microbreweries to boot, yoga studios (oh my!) Lancaster, lessening my carbon footprint, thanks to its walk-ability, bike-ability, green roofs and rain gardens. Lancaster, offering an urban environment where the arts can thrive, and the food-culture boasts locality as well as cross-cultural cuisine, and where wooded or wide-open landscapes are still within arm’s reach—offering respite to the nature-girl in me.
I’ve longed for a place where I can grow roots but still have adventures and where I can, once again, rediscover myself in a fresh context, unencumbered by the ghosts of my past or my gypsy nature. As an artist, educator, activist, and social butterfly, my expectations for a place to land are as multi-faceted as my interests; I need a symbiotic relationship with my community, where we shape each other as we stretch and grow. I decided to make a list while living in Reading, PA, in an attempt to paint a clearer picture of what it was I’d been searching for and—wouldn’t you know it? Just forty minutes down the road, my own personal manifesto for a home existed, ripe with possibility. And now when someone asks me where I’m from, and I’m in the mood to be succinct I can confidently say, “Well, I’m a Lancaster Transplant.”