When we think of roots, we think of family trees. If we’re from a loving, supportive family, we think of those roots supplying stability and nourishment. If we’re from an atypical—or even dysfunctional—family, we think of them as hidden, dirty, cavorting with worms and grubs.
Those roots are great to write about. But, we have other roots. Some of them have nothing to do with family. Bear with me as I beat the metaphor a little longer.
Since I am now on year twenty of my five year plan of living in the metro Detroit area, it’s probably safe to say that I’ve put down roots. Of course, those roots began as connections with people who had kids the same ages and in the same activities as my kids. They grew deeper. Slowly, those roots developed into a fondness for Michigan, snow, and yes, Detroit. I’ve even started writing about the city.
Whether you grew up in a community or adopted one, you can’t help but connect. Sure, the cashier at CVS isn’t family, but you like seeing her friendly face and what hair color she chose this week.
How long did it take you to develop roots in the place you live? How deep do they go? How do they sustain you? How far-reaching are they?
On the other hand, if you’re living far from your original home, how has the lack of those roots affected you? How do you maintain them from afar?
Often we have a kinship with people based primarily on a shared heritage. Do you feel this way with people that come from the same background as you? Various factors can contribute to such a connection, including race, ethnicity, social economic status, or profession. It can even include the region in which you grew up.
Give voice to the way your heritage connects you with others. Describe why it resonates and how your heritage sets you apart.
The Roots of Friendship
A single post, much less a single paragraph, can’t begin to address the ways in which friends provide roots. There’s no question that friends ground and support us. (See How to Write about a Friend). As you write about your family history, don’t leave out the people that were often closer than relatives were.
Shared History: The Ties that Bind
Ever wonder what makes college buddies become life-long friends? A lot of it is shared history. You share important events at a pivotal point in your development.
What roots have you developed through a shared history with others? What did that time mean for your own development? What do the people that experienced it with you mean to you now? How are they like roots?
Your Turn: Reveal Your Roots
I’m sure I haven’t covered it all. What other roots do you have? (Comment, please!)