One thing about growing up in a place is the way background noise becomes ingrained in your subconscious. Even if you don’t necessarily like a place, your brain imprints things that you might not even think about. I grew up first in South Carolina, then in Texas, moving to the latter when I was ten. I hated Texas. I vehemently did not want to move, and I spent about four years in deep depression due to that move and the things I experienced during those four years (drug violence, deaths of classmates, bullying, culture shock, etc). I still carry PTSD from those years. That’s not the point, though. The point is that because of all this, I really hated Texas all through my adolescence. I hated the culture, weather, politics, everything. And quietly, south Texas sneaked into my subconsciousness.
The first time I had the mildest realization of this fact was the first time Jason and I moved to Wisconsin in late 2000. We lived there for almost five years, and there were some things I just never got used to. One: the lack of minorities in our rural part of the world, after growing up in two locations where being white was the community minority. Two: the weather patterns, not because of snow and colder winters, but because it only thunderstormed at night, never suddenly in mid-afternoon. Three: the background hum of noise was completely and utterly different.
San Antonio has some very distinct background nature noises. Cicadas are loud. Mourning doves call all spring. Grackles have a very distinctive call, and of course there are the mockingbirds that imitate anything, anywhere, anytime. I’m not a big nature person, but something about these particular pieces of background settled into me and comforted me during the four years of my depression post-move. They were sounds I welcomed back when my family returned to Texas in late 2005, sounds that had become background again by the time we moved to Boston in 2014, sounds that I anticipated and loved upon return to Texas a year later. They call to me. They sing home.
But the problem with subconscious attachments is that they’re subconscious, and thus easy to forget in times of stress. Like, say, when you suddenly move across the country for the third time in three years. About a month ago, I put on a yoga video that Adriene filmed outdoors in Austin, TX, only an hour or so north of San Antonio. It must have been spring when she filmed it. The birdsong and insect hum hit me with a wave of nostalgia. I do my yoga with my curtains open and my light off, so that the room is filled with natural light. With that light filtering through, and my eyes not on the video, it sounded as if the birds were just outside my window. I felt simultaneously peaceful and homesick.
Of course, then I went home for a couple weeks, and now I’m back, and there have been lots of changes in the nature here just in that short time. Whereas a month ago, there were no birds singing in the frozen north, there is birdsong now. It’s different from San Antonio, of course, but there are birds singing. It seems as if spring is really coming now, and hopefully with spring will come hope (how’s that for grammar, heh). I know it’ll be a few years before I can return to my internal-noise-comfort-zone, but I’m happy to at least have some song outside my window again.