Anywhere you go is place — the store, the neighbor’s, the restaurant, the moon.
Heck, even the bathroom is place.
Place is a function of being present. “This is the place!” might describe a stop you make along the road. Place by itself isn’t really much to speak of.
However, when place meets emotion and memory, it transcends itself. If a tree in a forest is just a place, when you and your lover carve your initials into it and surround it with a heart, it becomes more than what it is. It becomes a destination where love was declared and a memory was made.
I am lucky. Once a year I return to a “place” in Canada that I have found myself for over 30 years. I have lots of cousins here you see, and this bit of cottage country has really been a part of my life ever since I can remember. It is where books have been written, friends have been made, cookies have been baked, and walks have been taken.
It’s a place where kindness is the rule and inconsiderate folks are the subject of gossip. It’s a place where people don’t call ahead — they ride their bikes right up the front door and yell, “Anyone here?” Doorbells not required. It’s a place where junk food is gourmet and fresh cookies are social glue.
Dogs bark in the distance and the sound almost complements the wind. Mosquitoes are annoying, but without them, we’d lose part of the yearly conversation. It’s a place where the level of the lake is of great concern and the time on the clock is of little concern.
Exercise is a form of relaxation here. The corn is sweet, the fruit is rarely sour, and waking up to the cool morning breeze is all the nourishment we feel we need. Children are obliged to splash their parents, the seagulls will always find something to eat, and a milkshake is often the local past time. There is bingo, but also the bango of the bongos at the bandshell.
The cottages, shops, and markets here are certainly “place.” I find myself placed in them quite often. However, the fact that so much of my life has passed here makes it all something more. Every street corner, pump handle, and business has some space in my mind. There are paving stones here that have existed since before my parents were born, and they still see faithful footfalls. No, this isn’t just “place.” It’s life. Pure and simple.
Someday, I may find myself at the helm of a family and they will come with me to this place. And, with a little luck, it will become something more than the sum of its parts for them, too. In the process, it will grow and change for me, yet still be everlasting as something special.
And, in the end, isn’t that the beauty of place?