Warning – the following description contains extremely corny material. Please be advised. Also, if you haven’t seen the last episode of season 3 of Glee, there are spoilers ahead.
In my opinion, it’s impossible to come up with a title for any work that doesn’t run the risk of sounding cheesy or overly sentimental. We might as well call anything we create “Untitled 1”, and so on, if we are going to avoid cheese at all costs. Given this dilemma, I chose instead to embrace the sentimental and go with a title that really did have something to do with the place I am in life.
I’m just going to come right out and say it – this title has everything to do with the last episode of season 3 of Glee. Finn Hudson (the football-playing, cheerleader-dating high school stereotype that has been transformed into one of the biggest Gleeks of them all) breaks up with Rachel Berry (the self-professed star of the show who, despite her self-centered attitude and previously atrocious wardrobe, ends up with many friends) so she will pursue her dream of studying musical theater in New York instead of deferring a year to marry him. As she’s leaving on a train and saying goodbye to the Glee Club, Mr. Schuster and Finn, she sings a song by Room for Two called “Roots Before Branches”. The song talks about knowing who you are before you can know who you want to be, and knowing where you’re from before you know where you want to go.
I thought about that notion, and came up with my own spin on it. I believe that putting distance between you and your origins can bring you closer to them and illuminate things you never knew about where you come from. Since I graduated high school, I have been propelled to go places far away from my roots. I deliberately looked for colleges outside of Massachusetts (which cut out a number of good ones) and ended up going to Ohio. My first job out of college was as far away from home as possible, in Indonesia. My next job takes place in India – 10.5 hours ahead of Lexington’s EST time zone.
Even if you want to, though, it’s pretty hard to escape your roots. You begin to identify with them. You begin to miss them so much you see them in people around you. You call the people who make up your roots, your family, more often than you think you will. You rail against them when they can’t understand the new things you’ve learned from the places you’ve been. You come home in shock and they give you the appropriate distance and love, until you bounce back to them, a better person for growing branches away from them. You learn that the bonds you make at home are stronger than you ever thought. And you come to realize that the home that comprises your roots supports your decision to grow wholeheartedly. You also put down roots in new places, and realize that you don’t have to rip them up again once you leave. The relationships you form become a part of your original roots, and home becomes a relative term.
The name “roots into branches” symbolizes my desire to grow in two directions – putting down more roots while growing branches that stretch just a little further than before. I have helped create community and have found true human connection in very unlikely places. It’s my hope I can get better at seeking out those things as time goes on, wherever I go in the world.