This started me on a train of thought about place. Growing up outside of Boston I always felt like an outsider because I spoke like a person from the midwest, and try as I did, I could never even imitate a Boston accent. I was born in Cleveland, and when I was growing up I always held some kind of mythological connection to Cleveland in my heart. As a young adult I sought out friends from Cleveland. I guess it was from one of them that I heard that the street that held my home from birth to four-and-a-half was demolished in order to put in a highway or something.
When I left Boston for New York, Boston felt like "home" for the first time, but only for a year or two, and only when I wasn't there. It also began to change, and it is no longer the place I remember. I used to feel at home at Tanglewood, and then it changed. When I lived in New York, I never quite felt like a New Yorker (that pesky midwestern accent again), but I felt somewhat comfortable in a place that was filled with a lot of misplaced people and a lot of history. I also had good friends. I felt out of place in Schladming, the town in Austria where I lived for a year, but I felt at home in Vienna. Unfortunately I didn't have a real place to live in Vienna, and I couldn't find any work. It is not surprising that I never felt at home in Hong Kong.
It is surprising that I really don't feel at home in the little town in the midwest where I have lived for the last 22 years. Most of the things I have liked about it in years past are no longer here, and so many of the people I have grown close to have either moved away or died. Once I felt like a vital part of the musical life in town, and now I feel like a stranger, or maybe a guest. Sometimes I even feel like a ghost.
Oddly I always feel at "home" sitting in an orchestra--anywhere. I always feel "at home" going through stage doors. I have always been able to go to any stage door and walk into the hall. For some reason I look like I belong there: people have even told me so. (I have gotten into a lot of concerts for free that way.) I feel at home in my house with my family, and I feel at home when I'm teaching, when I'm playing chamber music, and when I'm practicing.
Today I started working on the Bach B-flat Partita (on the piano), and I felt oddly "at home." My younger brother used to practice it when we were kids, and I always wanted to be able to play it. I think that music, particularly Bach, is a wonderful constant to have, especially in a world where there are so many physical changes that rob us of continuity and mess around with our memories and our sense of place in the world.