Whenever someone asks me where I’m “from,” there’s no easy answer to that question. While many people grew up in one location, I moved around a lot throughout my early years. Do I say California, the place I was born — and where I traveled back to when I became an adult? That one does make sense. But there’s also North Carolina, where I went to high school. Or what about New Hampshire, where I live today? On top of that, all of the travels I’ve been on as an adult have left their mark on me, as I always carry a little bit of Morocco, Thailand, Laos, and other places with me everywhere I go.

All of those journeys form a part of my history, each location a shimmering strand on the spiderweb that is my life. But none of them are really where I’m “from.”

But then again, maybe I’m needlessly complicating things. Because when it comes down to it, the place I’m truly “from,” the place where my roots really go back to, is the town of Sedona, Arizona.

 

Nicholas Conley Sedona Arizona

Sedona, a town famous for Red Rocks, vortexes, adobe houses, and breathtaking views, is probably my favorite place in the world. There’s something special about it, something indescribably magical. Maybe it’s the scenery. Maybe it’s the history, or maybe the vortexes. But it’s something.

Either way, when I think about the concept of “home,” at least in the way that others seem to mean it, I think of Sedona. I lived in Sedona throughout almost all my childhood, up until I was nearly a teenager, and the little red town left its imprint on me in a big way. Going back there, I’m always surprised by how much I connect to Sedona — by how many little elements, features, and aspects of my personality seem directly rooted in that one place, nestled between ruddy, rocky guardians.

Sedona Arizona Nicholas Conley Airport Mesa

The last few weeks, Veronica and I took a chance to go back and explore it — me, for the first time in almost a decade. Her, for the first time ever. Coming back to Sedona is always a major moment in my life, and it was truly breathtaking to go back there, to look up and see Bell Rock, Cathedral Rock, and all of the other old “friends” again.

Sedona Arizona Bell Rock

Whenever I’m leaving Sedona, I feel like I’m leaving a piece of myself behind with it. It’s always so weird, feeling so far away from the one place where all my childhood memories go back to. In many ways, it always feels like going back into a dream I experienced one night, a dream that felt real… except in this case, the dream really does exist. But I also feel like every time I go back, it marks some kind of major event. That I’ve passed through another threshold in life, and the next one is coming up.

I’ll always come back. I’ll always remember. And I have a feeling that the next time I make it out there won’t be so long, this time.

Sedona Arizona Nicholas Conley

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14 thoughts on “Sedona, AZ: Traveling Back Through Time

    • Oh yeah, you should definitely make it a must-see! It’s amazing. Nowhere else like it, I think. It’s surprising how many cool locations are around inside the United States; it’s such a diverse country. Still, there are so many places to see all over the world, and the more you look, the more places seem to pop up…

  1. I have a similar issue. Do I say where I lived until I was 6. Or I grew up in Liverpool? Or spent most of my adult life in Asia? Or that I was lured to my husband’s hometown where I was abandoned when he died? It’s a conundrum.

  2. I live in Flagstaff, am from New Jersey, but spent most of my life in NYC. Usually I tell people I’m from New York (lived there for 20 years).

    I am grateful to be so close to Sedona – I have some friends who live there. In the winter I spend as much time as I can there. A lovely place!

    • Oh yes, so you have the same multiplicity of home locations! Based on what you say, yeah, NYC seems to make the most sense.

      And hey, Flagstaff is awesome! Very cool town, was up there briefly on this visit, and have many Flagstaff memories from childhood. As a kid I always thought of it as the “cold” place… years before I ever set foot in New Hampshire, heh.

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