As my plane took off from the San Diego airport last Monday, I thought about how my visit with Casey, Hilary and their family (see previous post) had just made it one of several cities with which I have a personal connection. In my old age, I’ve come to appreciate the significance of place. Whether it’s a historical monument, a beautiful natural preserve, or someone’s house — places are important. For me, I like to have places to go back to — to remember.
I’d been to the San Diego area several times before, with some great previous memories, but on my flight I realized that as a result of this trip I now have a bond with that area that I’ll always carry with me. I started thinking about other cities that have have become like that for me — places where I feel that I’m a little more than just a visitor.
Not counting the Twin Cities of Minneapolis and St. Paul, where I’ve lived all my life, there are exactly 9 cities (one is actually a very small town) on my list. I love many other cities I’ve visited — Seattle, Prague, Barcelona, Boston, Savannah, Charleston, Florence, Paris, Venice, to name 9 others — but I’ve only been an outsider in those places, with no personal tie.
The list was easy to make. All of my cities qualify for it easily and no others come close to making it. In alphabetical order, here are my 9 special cities, with the major (but not only) reason for inclusion.
Charlottesville, Virginia – My daughter, Emily attended the University of Virginia there.
Chicago – Other daughter, Lauren lives there now.
Coalwood, West Virginia (OK, not exactly a “city”) – I made a documentary film about it, called “Welcome to Coalwood”.
Duluth, Minnesota – Childhood memories
Madison, Wisconsin – Lauren went to college there.
Madrid, Spain – Lauren spent her Junior year of college studying abroad there and we visited her.
New York City – Emily lived there for 5 years.
Rochester, Minnesota – Emily and husband Kyle are starting the next chapter of their life together there.
San Diego – Casey and Hilary Gauntt shared their home and their family story of loss and hope with me.
In future posts I’ll tell my story of each of my 9 cities more fully. Whenever I visit any of these places I will always feel at least a little bit at home. I don’t know if there will ever be a 10th, but you never know. I hope there are more to come.
What are your special cities?