Tuesday, April 25, 2006

Obsessed or Possessed?

Have you ever visited a place and felt an overwhelming connection to it that inspired a need to be creative—whether through writing, painting, photography, or anything else? That place could be a region or a city or even a house. It doesn’t matter because it’s just a place where you feel you belong, a place you feel you understand, a place that feels like it’s racing through your veins, a place that feels like home. No, not just feels like home…it is home. For me, that place is New England, specifically Maine and the Boston area.

I can hear my family groaning right now. Yes, I’ve become obsessed with or possessed by that area. It’s almost like I lived there in a past life, or something. Even though I’m on the other side of the country and it’s been almost two years since I visited, the connection pulls at me until my gut hurts because I’m not there. Weird, huh? Yep, that’s me.

Anyway, the area inspired me to write, write, write. Touring the historic homes and buildings, hiking the trails throughout the numerous woods, speaking to the people who live there…I embraced all of it and still do. I can’t believe how much I was able to write after soaking it all in and ::sob:: returning to the West coast. I have no problem picturing my family living in one of those old houses on the rocky, Atlantic coast and watching the boats, filled to capacity with lobster traps, as they head toward the docks. And I’m writing away, inspired by something as simple as a butler’s pantry and basement—things you don’t normally find where I live.

It’s odd to think that I feel more at home, more comfortable, in a place that I’ve only visited, rather than in the place I’ve lived my entire life. Why is that?

I think some of this has to do with the fact that the East coast people know how to save and treasure their historic structures (and not plow them over to erect another mini-mall). Sure, the West has a remarkable history, too, but there aren’t a lot of physical reminders of this left—earthquakes and fires have something to do with this, but not everything. And since I write historical stories set in California, I know quite a bit about it’s colorful past. I just wish more of it had been saved.

I’ve always had a fascination with history, American or otherwise, and have recently discovered that some of my ancestors came to the New World in 1631 and are quite prominent throughout the history books; in fact, some are infamous (Salem, anyone?). Oh, and I also have Cherokee ancestry, so it’s safe to say that one side of my family has been here a loooong time.

Is it familial history that causes the connection, that inspires me to write? Maybe. I know I’d write no matter what, but just visiting New England wakened something else in me.

What about you guys? Ever experience anything like that?