I like to read a lot of “self-help” books; usually to roll my eyes at, but sometimes to actually help myself work through some feels I’m feeling. And let me tell you, I have been up in my feels as of late over where I live.
I live in Nashville, Tennessee. I’ve been here over 11 years at this point, so whereas I’m not exactly a “native”, I’m certainly at least a little bit “local”. And y’all… Nashville has had a rough past few years. A major tornado, a Christmas bomb, lax pandemic restrictions, and bachelorettes… it’s a lot. And although there are a lot of things I love about this city, there are a lot of things that I love about this city that I’m not able to do anymore due to the Covids and being a transplant recipient. It’s been rough and although I’d be ready to throw everything in a UHaul and leave at a week’s notice off to some new location that probably still has the same issues but fewer bachelorettes, my partner is less inclined to do so. I’m not inclined to go without him.
So instead I went on a Google tear and ended up finding this book:
Melody Warnick is a serial mover, but due to life and family circumstances, she is realizing that she needs to “put down some roots” after this last move to Blacksburg, Virginia. In an effort to make herself believe Blacksburg is home, she embarks on a series of “Love Where You Live” projects, backed by science and real-life examples from around the country (including one in Nashville!). This Is Where You Belong: Finding Home Wherever You Are is part pop-psych on the idea of place attachment and part journey of a woman just trying to find a spot in the world to call home.
The thing I really liked about this book is, not only does Melody give you her “Love Where You Live” project steps, but she also talks about how she implemented them in her own town – even when she halfassed it. At first glance, the activities seem a little too easy and contrived (Walk more! Shop local! Give back!). But when they are paired with the examples and research to back up why they matter, it makes sense. There ARE things I can walk to within a mile of my apartment complex to get to know my neighborhood. I CAN do more of my shopping from local businesses to keep our local economy thriving. We SHOULD be regulars at a nearby restaurant. Maybe I can fall back in love with Nashville…
The elephant in the room that is the still ever-present Covid threat. This book was published in 2016 where a global pandemic was not even in most of our top 10 worries at the time. Realistically, it’s a lot harder to host community events or even get together with neighbors. I won’t lie, I read some of the “Love Where You Live” project steps with a twinge of sadness – I’d love to start holding and participating in events again but it’s just not feasible to create some of these same experiences safely right now.
All that being said, I still highlighted a lot in my Kindle notes and had some good conversations with my partner about things we can do to feel more connected to this city again in a safe way. We may have lost Broadway to the party barges and Kid Rock’s Big Ass Honkey Tonk (real thing), but we never really went there in the first place.
For what it’s worth… I have started to remember why I have chosen to stay here all this time. I’ve made it a point to explore my neighborhood (in the car though because one does not “walk” in the Southern Humidity if one can help it). We’ve tried to shop more local. I’ve made more of an effort to reach out to friends and do things because I like living near these people. This Is Where You Belong was a reminder that, yes… you can find ways to belong, no matter where you end up.
Book & Publishing Info
This Is Where You Belong: The Art and Science of Loving the Place You Live by Melody Warnick
Published June 21, 2016 by Viking
Author Website | Goodreads | Amazon
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