As I trudged along the slushy sidewalks of Adams Morgan yesterday, I began to realize how much my identity is influenced by the places I claim.
As I stepped over snowbanks and slogged through unplowed crosswalks, I became more aware of my instincts, the way I knew, by their appearance, which snowbanks would hold my weight and which wouldn’t, which cars would inevitably trap themselves in a slush pile-up as they made turns that, to the Midwestern eye, were obviously too sharp, as they slowed down or sped up. I cringed at the sound of tires being stripped raw, and slowly realized that I did only because I knew that just because you can spin through the snow all the way down to the pavement doesn’t mean you’ll gain the traction you need to wiggle free.
Jon and I helped dislodge a truck full of DC security personnel on patrol to monitor safety in the midst of this armageddon-like weather. We offered the most effective way to accelerate or brake. The particular angle at which you have to turn the wheels. The proper rocking motion needed to prevent the wheels from spinning too much and icing over your path.
T.S. Eliot writes, “We shall not cease from exploration, and the end of all our exploring shall be to arrive where we started and know the place for the first time.”
But maybe you don’t even need to arrive where you started to know the place better, and to know yourself better insofar as that place is a part of who you are.