Fifteen years ago, when my parents told me we were going to move to New Hampshire, I had a very clear idea in my mind of what it was going to be like. The ground would be stark white with snow year-round, the endless rows of pine trees would rival the Redwood National Park in height. The air would smell of pancakes, which would make my stomach grumble as I traveled to school via sled dogs.
As wild as my imagination was, and still is, I wasn’t far off. New Hampshire winters are relentless, pancake houses are wildly popular, and sledding (sans sled dogs) is the only way to forge a path on a poorly plowed driveway.
But what I never dared to imagine as a third culture kid, raised in the bleating heat of Singapore, was that I wouldn’t have to learn to love my new home.
I fell in love with New Hampshire quickly and wholeheartedly; it just took me fifteen years to fully realize it.
A lot of people, rightfully so, believe my childhood overseas prompted me to move abroad after university. That’s partially true but the most important years of my life were spent in the Granite State so this love/thank-you letter to New Hampshire is long overdue.
Lately, I’ve been referring to Bratislava as home, which could not be more true. But sometimes, it feels like cheating, like I’m falling through on a commitment I made years ago, before I even understood what commitment really was.
Without a doubt, when it comes to place I am polyamorous. I have favorite places and cities across the world, yes, but it goes deeper than that. Over the years, I’ve pocketed a handful of homes, all accompanied with the emotional amenities that form that elastic bond that can be stretched thousands of miles.
But with New Hampshire, that elastic bond seems to stretch even deeper than the rest.
Maybe it’s because when you’re tucked into a comfortable bed, with the promise that the darkness will be kind, you have full license to dream and romp around your calculated imagination.
But New Hampshire, you are more than a comfortable pillow to lay my head on. You are the granite mold to the most formative years of my life. You doused me in comfort and then you nudged me towards the covert unknown. I can travel the world and count on the darkness to be kind, and the battered road to lead somewhere worthwhile because I grew up in the Live Free or Die state.
Desolation was introduced as a fair weather friend while the world seemed to blow wide open when I moved to New Hampshire.
So in the last moments of my life, a life spent travelling and stumbling and starting over again and again, if there’s time and a place between life’s soft end and the next, veiled beginning, I hope the cross over requires trudging through snow, nudged to the ground by the hushed twilight that comforts my wayfaring soul. A drop of maple syrup will lounge on my tongue and the boisterous warmth of a wood stove will tickle my back and the unpolished moon will feign bashfulness while it watches over me so closely. The pine trees will be thin and frazzled and coated in globs of stubborn ice.
And the delectable desolation and rugged beauty of New Hampshire will lead me to the next grand adventure, just as it always has.
Live Free or Die,