What makes a place your home?

I have to confess something. I’m not entirely sure if I’m qualified to write for the Growing Up Greenwich column.

Let me explain what I mean.

I was not born in Connecticut. I spent my early years in Marin County, Calif., which was a 30-minute drive to San Francisco via the Golden Gate Bridge. When I was 11, my father’s work took us from the West Coast of America to Dublin, Ireland. The culture shock was immediate and intense. I was in a new country with a new home and a new school.

Then, two years into our Irish adventure, we heard the news that my father’s job would take us back to America. But my enthusiasm was tempered, for we were going to America, yes, but California, no. It turns out our next stop would be Connecticut, meaning the transition cycle would begin all over again.

At times during my moves, I would think about the idea of home. Where am I from? Which town is my safe haven? I was 13 years old and starting my fourth school in my third new city. I was so busy transitioning from Irish life to American life that I felt I hardly had the luxury to consider it.

But starting eighth grade at the Convent of the Sacred Heart in Greenwich was much easier than I had anticipated. I was trying to balance the ideas of American history vs. of Irish history, snowstorms vs. constant rain, American accents vs. Irish brogues and, of course, learning to settle into my new community.

Despite the many differences, I began to see the parallels between my communities. The open aired, boutique-filled Greenwich Avenue was similar to Chestnut Street of San Francisco and the ever-busy Grafton Street of downtown Dublin. The rocky shores of Tod’s Point reminded me of the waves of the Irish Sea against the cliffs of Killiney, County Dublin, and the stark beauty of the Pacific Ocean pounding against the Marin headlands as seen from the Golden Gate Bridge.

What struck me most was the parallel voice of the people. Now, I do not mean the actual voice, obviously, as the lilting sounds of the Irish brogue differ greatly from the strong and varied accents of New England. I am referring to the ideas of the Greenwich, Marin, and Dublin communities.

Although each place varies in its landscapes, cultures, traditions, and academic systems, each society values the importance of family with great reverence.

Whether I was walking along the Golden Gate Bridge, playing field hockey in the sheeting rain of Dublin or walking across the beautiful campus of Sacred Heart, I realize that I have become a part of each unique community and have expanded my life all over the world.

Now, in my final years as a teenager living with my family, I have become more aware of what is a definition of my own home. As of now, I live in Old Greenwich. As of three and a half years ago, I lived in Sandycove, Ireland. As of six years ago, I lived in Tiburon, Calif. Within the next two years, I will live on a college campus somewhere in the United States or maybe even abroad.

In my 16 years of life, I have experienced both European and American cultures and made friends across an ocean and even beyond. And now, when asked where I am from, I say Greenwich. As long as my family and loved ones are there, it is my home.

 

Sarah Jackmauh is a junior at Convent of the Sacred Heart.

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