“Thomas H. Benton” writes about the rootlessness that acutely characterizes academic life, and modern life in general. Academics are trained with skills that make them native cosmopolitans–they can get jobs almost anywhere there’s an institute of higher learning, but they are “at home” almost nowhere. More generally, people leave home to get college degrees that allow them to follow their jobs regardless of where those jobs happen to be. Our economic system then creates feelings of disconnect and rootlessness in people because we have no real history or affection for the places we have to live. Those things take time.
In my own life, I’ve been in the Washington, D.C. area for nearly a decade and it has only been the past year or two or so that it has actually felt like home. I moved down here for grad school thinking it would be two years and out, but I’ve ended up staying. I’ve now lived in northern Virginia longer than any other place except where I was born. My friends, and my life, are here. Entertaining the thought of moving back to NJ or to the Philadelphia area gets harder and harder because of what I’d leave behind. Roots are a good thing, and they probably shouldn’t be tossed away so casually as we’re expected too.