Something about moving to a new place invigorates my desire to learn new skills. I think I’ve always been motivated by fresh starts. For example, I was that kid who got really excited for the beginning of the school year…through college. And grad school.
Add that to a potent cocktail of new people, surroundings, and routines et voila, you’ve got yourself a recipe for a new hobby.
When I moved to western Washington a few years ago, I learned how to crochet. I sat on my new friend’s couch every Wednesday and taught myself by watching Youtube videos. I had just graduated from college, moved across the country, and hadn’t gotten a job yet–needless to say, I was poor. I mostly crocheted using scraps of the cheapest acrylic bought second hand at Goodwill. But I think that even if I had been crocheting long strands of torn up trash bag, I would have kept with it. Learning that skill made me feel at home in a new place and helped me bond with a new friend.
Flash forward four years and the situation is really not much different. I’m in a new town (Moscow, Idaho!), and I’m knitting with higher quality materials than I used to learn crochet (thanks to a year of cushy employment!). I sit in a plastic and metal chair, not on a couch, and it’s in a yarn shop, not my friend’s house. But the connection to my new place and the new people who inhabit it remains the same.
The knitting is going approximately as you would expect. It was slow and crappy at first, and now it’s slightly less slow and crappy. There’s nothing noteworthy about that. And maybe there’s nothing particularly noteworthy about how one woman goes about settling into a new place, either. But something that maybe does warrant some examination is how we transient folks go about developing a sense of identity and place when home is a moving target. For me, that question only raises more questions:
1. How is my identity stable, and how does it adapt to my place?
2. In which ways is my place something ephemeral that I carry with me wherever I go, and in which ways is my place physically bound– something that I have to leave behind each time I move?
3. To what extent does my place shape my identity, and how does my identity shape the places I inhabit?
I’m coming to believe that my drive to learn new skills when I move is my way of attempting to come to terms with these questions. Maybe as my knitting becomes steadily more efficient and attractive I will also come up with some good answers. Or maybe I’ll just get a nice hat. Either way, I’m excited.