As I prepare to travel to Michigan, the place I grew up, the first time, and the place I call home, I think about this. This calling of home.
What makes Michigan my home is those twenty years I lived there, barely a third of my life. Yet it is a place drilled into my heart. A place that courses through my blood. Where I have roots. Where I had dreams. And even for all that is unfamiliar, changed, destroyed, there is still so much that is a part of who I am. How I speak. How I react. How I perceive a lake. (If you can see a person clearly on the other side, it is a pond, people, a pond.) How I understand traffic, negotiate a crowd, judge a pastrami sandwich, taste a beer, watch a ball game. How I love.
And still, really, there are other places where I have lived, almost as long as, in fact longer than, I lived in Detroit, and I don’t think of those places, now, as home. I think of them as places that I once lived. Even though Las Cruces, New Mexico, and Flagstaff, Arizona, also drilled into my heart and coursed through my blood as Detroit did. They are places I love deeply, remember fondly, and I think of them often. But when I visit there, I do not say, ‘I am going home.’
There are only two places that get that label. Detroit, and my current residence, my new home in Cottonwood. The former, where I still have family, and lots of it. The latter, where I live now, and, more importantly, where my daughters go when they ‘go home.’
“Home is wherever you are, Mom,” one of the girls said to me as I considered leaving Flagstaff, and felt sad that visiting me would not be in that house where they had spent almost half of their lives, in a town where they grew up. And then it occurred to me, they grew up in two towns, and now they are each old enough to have lived equal amounts of time in a few other places. Each being their home when they are there, and then there is being home where I am.
So, in this simple musing, in which I set out with no other purpose, really, than to share the photo above, I have landed on a truth. Out of the mouths of babes.
Home is where you know you are loved. Loved by the land, the history, the dreams, or the family and friends. The pets, the parks, the smells, the vistas. Be it the corner deli, or a struggling metropolis. Forest or desert. Land or sea. Family of one, or dozens. It’s home.
I hope your holidays take you to the place and to the people where you feel yourself to be home.
Me? I’m going home. Detroit, Macklers, Murphys, see you in a few.
The photo of sunset at Dead Horse Ranch State Park, Cottonwood, AZ, is by me.