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Perspective: Bloom where you are planted


When I was 11, I wrote an autobiography called “Bloom Where You Are Planted” about moving from Ohio to Pennsylvania after the death of my mom’s best friend and my father figure, one of many gay men who succumbed to the early start of the AIDS epidemic.

I traveled home to Pittsburgh a few weeks ago with my two daughters, leaving my son home with his paternal grandparents. My first trip with the kids, I hope we’ll travel more.

I say home when I refer to Pittsburgh, despite the fact that I've been gone for 12 years and I've now lived in Illinois longer than I've lived anywhere else as an adult. I say home when I talk about Pittsburgh, just like how my grandmother will tell you she’s from Brooklyn even though she’s lived in Pittsburgh for 60 plus years.

Here is where I got married, birthed my children, bought my first two houses, got divorced, went to grad school. Here is where I've suffered loss. My ex died suddenly in March.

The hundred lives I have lived here coalesce into a story that feels like it's barely begun. Somehow I rooted here without knowing it, although only my house and my partner keep me here.

DeKalb is a place full of people who are far from home. NIU attracts students from all over the world. I may call Pittsburgh home, but this is where I've lived my life. If you’re homesick, try to bloom where you’ve been planted.

Originally from Pittsburgh, Nia Springer-Norris moved to DeKalb in 2021 to pursue a Master of Arts in Communication Studies with an emphasis on Journalism Studies. Nia is also a freelance journalist, editor, and communication consultant.