So here is a truth that is hidden in plain sight: a person can love a place so much, and/or in such a way that the place is truly their most significant ‘other.’ I say this is hidden in plain sight because it really doesn’t occur to most of us that this could really be true – not just a sweet whimsical thing that poets say, but don’t really mean. In fact, it certainly did not occur to me until I experienced it myself. This is similar to a newly internalized vocabulary word that suddenly seems to appear everywhere, even though it has been in usage for a long time.
The idea that a place can be the love of one’s life, or one’s best friend, or one’s most significant other seems like a revelation at first; something unlikely, obscure and even mildly disturbing. Nonetheless, for some of us, it turns out to be true.
Long ago, just after returning to the US after having lived most of my twenties (the 1980’s) in Jerusalem, I used to say that Jerusalem was the love of my life. It seemed to be the only way I could express to people just how deeply connected I felt with her, how much that connection meant to me, and how much grief I was going through being situated so far away from her in time and space. I knew that I meant it, but I did not have a clue that others sometimes felt equally bonded to places, to the point that those places were effectively partner, lover and/or best friend.
My relationship with Jerusalem has meant so much to me over the course of my life that I have devoted substantial time and energy to the endeavor to better understand the nature of the bonds that form between people and places. This has been such a labor of love for me that each new tidbit, each new piece of the place-attachment puzzle I am lucky enough to find feels like a treasure to behold.
I remember the first time I heard ‘Under the Bridge’ by The Red Hot Chili Peppers. It had been 20 years since I had lived in Jerusalem, and I had only recently decided that I needed to devote time and energy to exploring and writing about place attachment and loss of place in people’s lives. I was driving around my neighborhood just outside of Washington, DC, running an errand, and the song began playing on the radio. I simply could not believe my ears. I had never heard anyone, anywhere describe a place as the most important ‘other’ in their life. It was so validating to hear this song, that I felt elated. It seemed that finally, someone seemed to understand, and have similar feelings. I was particularly struck by the fact that hearing this song was so powerful for me, even after having left Jerusalem behind two decades earlier!!!
If there is a chance that someone else visiting this website might find similar validation, and a comparable uplift as a result of hearing this particular song, then this whole website will have been worth the effort and expense. I post it here, as an offering, for the sake of all people who know what it feels like experience a place as the love of their life – even if only for a time.
After watching the video, I invite you to comment below!