I’ve been thinking a lot about the idea of space lately. Not as in the solar system, but as in how we negotiate ourselves in different locations. We act and feel differently based on where we are. We act differently, for example, when we’re in the comfort of our own home vs. when we’re at a party with a lot of people we don’t know. In the same way, we become aware of different facets of our identities based on our location. Depending on where we are, we might see our gender, race, religion, age in a different and unusual context.
For this week’s writing prompt, go to somewhere that you feel out of place and write about the experience. Why did you feel out of place? How? Did the experience lead you to think about your own identity in a different way?
Challenge yourself this week to get out of your comfort zone! Because when we are outside of our comfort zone, it pushes and encourages our creativity.
The Power of Place
I moved out of my college home this past weekend. I had lived in the dingy old house near campus that my roommates and I fondly called “The Stoop” (because of its big porch) for my Junior and Senior year of college. I’d lived with the same 7 girls both years and they’d been my “people” all throughout college—my best friends, my confidantes, my support system. Many of the girls are leaving Austin and I’m not sure when I’ll see them next, so moving out was emotional and weird and felt like growing up.
The house itself was disgusting. The bathtub clogged. Parts of drawers fell off. The refrigerator wouldn’t stay closed. The roof leaked. Cockroach sightings were common. The flue in the chimney was open (despite our many requests for our landlord to close it) so we boarded up the fireplace and got used to chirping birds living in our chimney. One especially memorable night, the birds escaped into our living room and two of my roommates chased the birds around the house and eventually trapped them in an old shoe box—much to the surprise and confusion of the unsuspecting Chinese food delivery man who knocked on our door during the fiasco. Clearly, living in The Stoop was an adventure I don’t think I’ll soon forget.
While my new house is clean and new and not falling apart, I find myself missing my old dive because, despite the cockroaches, The Stoop holds cheery memories. Fits of laughter with friends. Tears and breakdowns and crying so hard you eventually start laughing. Stressful late night study sessions cramming for tests the next morning. First kisses with new boyfriends. Wine nights and roommate dinners and stuffing our faces with cookie dough. Quiet, coffee-filled mornings reading on our porch. Cool fall nights sitting on the roof. Walking back from campus and opening the front door and seeing my roommates sprawled out on our big leather couch and feeling overwhelmed with a sense of welcome and belonging and finally being home.
Places hold such a power over us. We visit a familiar place and it can immediately transport us back to the moments we experienced there. Whenever I drive by The Stoop in the coming years and see its new residents sitting on the porch, I will always remember the memories I made there.
For this week’s writing prompt, I want you to write about a place that’s special to you—an old home maybe, or a favorite coffee shop, or a street you used to drive down everyday. Capture the details of the setting, the spirit of that place, and the memories you made there. Transport your readers with you to that important place.
Happy writing, friends!