Just Like Dolly Parton!
It's a grey day here in SoCal. But I'm feeling bright eyed and bushy tailed because of my morning walk! I think this is in part, because here in my neighborhood, I find my querencia.
"Querencia" is a metaphysical concept that refers to a person's sense of place. It comes from the verb "querer" in Spanish which means "To desire." This meaning does not translate especially clearly to English but refers to the place where one's strength is drawn from; where one feels at home; the place where you are your most authentic self, and feel most safe.
I encountered this word, this concept, many years ago when I was teaching Advanced Placement Literature to seniors in high school. It was a prompt on one of the essay exams, and it asked the students to describe where they found their querencia. They wrote beautiful answers. And it was one of my favorite all time questions.
Since then, I have often asked myself this question, and I always come up with the same answer. Where do I find my querencia?
Here. Right here in my neighborhood, where I have raised my children, and taken thousands of walks around the block.
I know there is some danger to being so attached to a place, because permanency is never guaranteed. Like my mom, I may some day need to move somewhere else besides this place where I have lived so long.
But I think that having a sense of querencia is a little like being in love. They.say it is better to have loved, and lost, than never to have loved at all. And I think that's true about querencia, too. Though it may be that some day I may have to leave this physical space, the strength that I drew from feeling rooted, from feeling safe, from feeling home, I will have that with me always.
And I will be forever grateful for that.