Driving out of York today, I noticed at some traffic lights that my route was headed ‘Local Traffic’ and it made me think about when you actually become ‘a local’.
Having lived in York now for half my life, and owning a house here, I usually confidently say that I’m from York when someone asks. I’ve finally shrugged off the need to say “Well, I was from x, but now I live in York”. I certainly didn’t feel I could just say “I’m from York” when I first came to study here, and still felt rather a fraud if I did say it for years afterwards. I still didn’t have that mental sense of ‘localness’ even after buying my first home or having wide social and work networks.
I’m not sure when the mental change occurred or what caused it; the length of time I’ve lived here; having a daughter who can only be described as ‘a local’; finally being able to get myself everywhere I need without a map; or maybe having so many of my memories tied to places here?
Anyway, as I headed straight across the lights, I had a sense of contented settled belongingness. I'm sure that there are deeper thoughts to be had, about how my sense of belonging, and self identity, interconnect but at the moment, I'll just focus on the contentment. (*It's been a busy few weeks... and good feelings should be treasured. Especially when they come in unexpected places like road markings!)