We all identify with a geographic location.
‘Geographic places. Cultural geographers, anthropologist, sociologists and urban planners study why certain places hold special meaning to particular people or animals. Places said to have a strong ‘sense of place’ have a strong identity that is deeply felt by inhabitants and visitors.’ Wikipedia
‘Topophilia (From Greek typos ‘place’ and philia, ‘love of) is a strong sense of place which often becomes mixed with sense of cultural identity among certain people and a love of certain aspects of such a place.’ Wikipedia
‘Topophilia also has a darker side, serving as a motive force behind nationalism and social exclusion, and even extending sometimes to the nazist celebration of Blood and Soil.’ Wikipedia
I have felt a sense of place on numerous occasions in my life.
The first would probably be in Sauk Village, a Chicago suburb, where my mom and dad and I lived on a tree lined street on which I had numerous friends. We had, an apparently free and worry free life…for awhile, and our home and the street that we lived on reminded me of the former, popular television show, Leave It To Beaver.
Another, long standing geographic location, of which I have a particular affinity is Southern Illinois University Carbondale. So many great occurrence in my life happened as a direct result of my affiliation with SIUC…my second home for the past forty years.
I feel a real sense of place in our Carbondale home of the past seventeen years. The scenic and peaceful atmosphere is an elixir to my, ever aging eyes and ears and senses.
Strangely enough I have felt a significant sense of place in three European cities that we have visited and one region.
Paris captivated my imagination! The rhythms of the city…the friendly and courteous people that I met…the beautiful french language and the culture and history and ambiance of the city of lights.
When we visited Oxford, England…I felt like that I had been there before. As we enjoyed a tour of the university’s library…the strangest thought was very real to me…that I had studied there. Perhaps it was the power of suggestion as I enjoyed hearing my history professor friends, the Argersinger’s, speak of lecturing at Oxford and their subsequent gift to us of a pastel painting of the school…or perhaps I was there before.
Edinburgh, Scotland was magical and magnetic. We visited the city in 2016 and I believe that I could live there as I enjoyed it so much. We were there in August when the Royal Edinburgh Military Tattoo was being performed and the Fringe Artistic Festival. Edinburgh was a sensory overload…but a good one.
I met the kindest gentleman, who was in a wheelchair, the first evening that we were there and he asked if I would assist him in standing to facilitate his placing his order for food in the cafeteria style restaurant that we were in. His genuine warmth and good humor was all that it took for me to begin bonding with Edinburgh.
My most memorable time in Edinburgh was the Ghost Tour that we took one evening. We toured both above ground and underground and heard stories that were unbelievable…but true.
Our time with our good friends, Margo and Jeff, in Tuscany…is etched, indelibly, on my memory.
First we had to drive a, less than one lane path, up a steep and extremely winding mountain…that required a hard ninety degree turn on more than one occasion in both the ascent and descent.
Our hosts lived in a farm house that had been erected in both the twelfth century and the sixteenth century.
The first evening of our visit we were invited by our hosts to attend a local festival in the Italian town, at the foot of the mountain that we were staying on, of Montecatini.
What a feeling of ‘Place’ as I sat at one end of an outdoor table and our hosts at the other and the gentleman and I saluted each other with wide smiles on our faces…and we understood each other…without language.
And, so, today, refugees come to our shores and our geographic boundaries and they come out of fear for their lives and persecution from gangs and drug lords and they come at the, tender mercy, of those who use them and rape them and charge them exorbitant sums to bring them to our country…the land that inscribes on the Statue of Liberty, ‘…With silent lips. Give me your tired, your poor, Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free, The wretched refuse of your teeming shore. Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me, I lift my lamp beside the golden door!’ The New Colossus by Emma Lazarus
They come to find home…they come to find place….
They come…as the Jews fled Europe during the Second World War…and as they fled Egypt….
They come to find a new home that is safe and secure…because their home…their place…has been torn asunder.
They come…as the people on the Mayflower…looking for a home and place and freedom from tyranny.
I sincerely believe that the day is coming that it will be the citizens of the United States that will be searching for succor and hope and refuge from the storm…
Will we be greeted with open arms…or a cage?