Being in the Black Hills this week has me pondering the definition of “home”.
“Home is where the heart is.”
“Home is wherever my loved ones are. As long as I have them, I am home.”
Etc, etc. We’ve all heard those types of sayings so many times that we hardly even hear them- really hear them- any more.
For all intents and purposes, my home is in Minnesota. I’ve lived there since 1994, minus several summers during college. I’ve married a Minnesota native, we’ve been together for 11 1/2 years, we’ve purchased a house and own a business and given birth to three children in Minnesota. I’ve gone from really loathing Tiny Town to really loving Tiny Town. We have good people in our lives there- healthy, kind, supportive people- and we’ve created a community of friends beyond what I ever pictured.
As soon as I start to see the outline of black against the horizon- those millions of Ponderosa Pines that give this area it’s name; those Black Hills– something starts pulling at my heart strings. I have an emotional connection to this place that transcends any other place I’ve been or lived.
Now that I’ve been gone for so many years, I can see the flaws of this place; I have enough objectivity to see which parts of living here I’m romanticizing and which parts are truly awesome. But lists upon lists of FACTS of why living here would be a) impossible b) not that awesome and c) often downright miserable (see also: family drama), even the most rational and logical thoughts cannot make that ache in my chest fade.
I love it here.
This place is my home.
Yes, my home is also where my babies are. Where we’ve put down our roots and created a great life. It is, in fact, a life that I love. We are happy. I am happy. We are raising our kids exactly as I always dreamed of raising my kids, in an environment that is nearly idyllic.
But I think home is also knowing a place- forwards and backwards, the goods and the bads. It’s knowing the back roads and the off-the-beaten-path ways; it’s driving by a place and having a memory; it’s the smells and the sounds and the happiness you feel smelling and hearing them.
It’s the way the air feels on your skin after the sun goes down. It’s the familiar act grabbing a sweatshirt when the thermometer says 102 degrees, because you know you’ll need it later.
It’s the curvy roads that you can drive a little too fast on because your body still has a cellular memory of them. It’s the way you can still easily pick out the tourists from the locals; the way you still consider yourself a local.
I’m not sure exactly why I have such a strong emotional connection to this place. But I am truly, hopelessly, endlessly bewitched.
Visiting is bittersweet. I can’t help but having several heart-quickening moments every day where I imagine us- really imagine us- moving here.
Yes, this is home. And yet tomorrow we will drive 550 miles back to the place that we live. A place that is also our home.
As I type this a thunderstorm is rolling in, and the pine trees smell wet and fragrant, and I have goosebumps. This smell? I think it even tops “newborn baby head” smell.