I have a particular identity at home as my parents’ daughter. I am the peacemaker, the one who needs protecting. At school, I was the planning one, the one who made good grades. At work, I am the well-recommended one, the one for whom teal seems an appropriate color. Growing up in church, I was my mother’s daughter, the one who stood next to her mom on stage every week in choir. When the church began to change (or perhaps it was me changing,) I lost my home church and big chunk of my identity with it.
I don’t believe I am the only one who has aspects of her identity caught up in the places she lives and frequents. There is something about the protection of a building, or the vastness of an ocean, or the heights of a mountain, that provide stability to our souls.
When I started writing my book, I focused heavily on a hospital as the setting and identity-creator for my main characters. In fact, the hospital became a character who influenced their relationship as much as any other human in the story. As the story progressed, I added home as a change of scenery. However, as I reflect on how my identity is wrapped up in the places I inhabit, I see how important home is to the couple in the story. Home is just as much a character influencing their relationship as the hospital. The couple works together and lives together, but they possess very different identities.
I think my brother substantiates my same-place, different-identities theory. We grew up in the same home and went to the same schools. Where I sought my family’s peace, my brother never feared to bring problems into the open. Where I was studious at school, he was the class clown who made good grades without trying. Where I was my mother’s daughter at church, he was the witty teenager who spent his free time teaching kindergarteners. To have always inhabited the same spaces, my brother and I are very different people.