What My DNA Tells Me

High Street, Winchester. Home of the best pasty EVER!

High Street, Winchester. Home of the best pasty EVER!

Halifax, Nova Scotia. Yeah! That’s where I want to go. It’s got everything I’m looking for. It’s in Canada (and I love Canada – Tim Horton’s and Swiss Chalet!), it’s got something like 900 miles of rocky beach coastline, it’s much more affordable than where I live now, and the weather is warmer than you would think it would be that far north because it’s an island right in the Gulf Stream. (I’m assuming you’d think it was mind-numbingly, snot-freezingly cold, but it’s just cold, which is okay with me). Yep, I’m going to move to Halifax, Nova Scotia.

Of course, about this time last year I was all set to pack my bags and move to Winchester, UK. I was there in August of 2010 and felt like I’d gone home. It was a great place. Jane Austen lived there, so I should too! Of course, I’ve also seriously considered moving to Australia. I’ve got a lot of friends down there and the idea of having an entirely different star pattern overhead and summer in December intrigues me. Hmm… Maybe I’ll move to Australia after all.

Okay, Merry, what’s all this talk about moving somewhere? Shouldn’t you grow where you’re planted?

In fact, I’ve had fantasies about moving—or running away—since I was a kid. There’s always been an enormous appeal to me in the idea of changing scenery. I get an enormous amount of satisfaction out of new climates and geography, out of new people and new ways around me. To me, there’s something invigorating about exploring the globe, getting a feel for BEYOND. Wanderlust? Oh yeah!

Yes, I’ve always felt this way, but just recently one of my friends came up with an interesting suggestion about what could be behind this whole need to move. Like me, this friend has seasonal wanderlust. She too feels the need to up and move on a visceral level. Also like me, she has a large amount of Cherokee ancestry. Her theory is that this need to wander off is a genetically imprinted need to migrate to the winter camp.

What a fascinating concept! We talk about genetic traits all the time, from red-haired Irish to boisterous Italians to stodgy Germans. Different nationalities have their reputations, and for the most part those traits do seem to carry through from generation to generation.

But what about America? We’re known as the Melting-Pot. Our culture is perhaps unique in that it is a blending of hundreds of different kinds of people from all parts of the world. We tend to think of ourselves as American, but underneath it all we are a mosaic of different pieces from different cultures. What if those traits continue to seem through our blood long after we lose any other outward signs of the nationalities that they come from?

Young Merry ready to swim away to parts unknown

Young Merry ready to swim away to parts unknown

No one looking at me would peg me as a Native American. (Although I did once tell an older Cherokee man I was talking to at a historical site that I had a lot of Cherokee blood and he said that he could tell by looking at me) Likewise, I don’t think anyone would instantly know that the other strongest influence in my heritage was Swedish. But the more I think about it, the more I feel those roots spreading.

Notice, I feel the need to migrate. I want to move all the time, see new places. But the list of places that I want to move to consists mostly of northern climates. Frankly, I can’t stand the heat. It’s nice now and then, but I would so much rather deal with a cold day than sweat through a hot one. And that, I believe, is my Scandinavian heritage. And also a bit of the Northern English heritage I have kicking around. I want to be in a colder climate. My DNA tells me so.

Will I ever pull up stakes and move to Canada? I would say it’s fairly likely at some point, especially once I can do it on an artist’s visa. Same goes for the UK. I’d like to spend a year there too. Will I ever find a place that calls me to settle down and make a permanent home? I don’t know. It remains to be seen.

I’m sure I’m not the only one. Who else wants to wander or relocate as their DNA dictates?

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One thought on “What My DNA Tells Me

  1. Very interesting post. My husband’s family all seem to have wanderlust, but more the can’t-live-in-the-same-place, even if they stay in the same location. My family (farmers, both sides), must have deep roots, because we stay in the same darned place for generations. 😉

    Oh, and Halifax is really beautiful. I’m probably biased being Canadian myself, but of the places I’ve traveled across the country (I’m a Westerner), Halifax is one of my favorite. And the history there – oohlala! Halifax explosion, Titanic history, proximity to Cape Breton and rich Celtic heritage – lots to explore. 🙂

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