El Paso: Land of terrible preconceived notions and ugly first impressions.
El Paso: A place that grows on you.
El Paso: land that I love.
I was driving home after my weekly run with Wear Blue last Saturday (followed by brunch with my girl, Julie), and I had a goofy smile on my face. The drive back to my house was routine and familiar. The mountains to the west stood tall along my route. The sky was a cloudless blue. I thought, “I am home.”
Home is a funny concept when you are regularly uprooted.
When I was ten and had just moved to Texas, I thought longingly of Michigan as home. It had been where I first had close friends. That’s where my grandparents live, where my parents fell in love. It’s where every kid takes a field trip to an apple orchard and you get enough snow in the winter to make forts that you can climb inside.
When my parents dropped me off at college in Lubbock, a six-hour drive from our house on Hillview Drive, I cried. That had been my home longer than I had lived in any other one place. (The record still stands.) Visiting during summer vacations I realized that I felt itchy there. The place was the same, but I had changed. Home was changing, and after my parents got divorced, the house’s giant reputation in my mind crumbled. There was a time that those thoughts made me feel sad. Not any more. I’ve driven by it every so often. A new family lives there now, and it’s their home.
Was college my home? My five years spent in Allen? The measly (and miserable) eight months that I was in Germany? or is it El Paso?
I claim it all.
I love that for some people home is one place, one set of bricks, the bedroom that still smells the same as the day you left. That’s how many grandmother’s house is in Flat Rock. Even after years away, hearing the bang of the back door or the creak of the basement steps reminds me of years of Christmases, inside jokes, and family memories. I envy people who can find all that in once place.
But I also love that my memories and inside jokes and Christmases are scattered far and wide. My big brother taught me to swim at a hotel in the middle of a cross-country move. Years later, I taught our little brother how to swim in the backyard pool of our Dallas home. I watched the OJ car chase at a hotel in Tennessee. I admitted my darkest secret on a lumpy dorm room bed in West Texas. My husband slept through the announcement of a new Pope on our couch in Germany. I’ve spent holidays on every coast of this great country. As cheesy as it sounds, home is where my mom cooks my favorite meal, where my dog greets me with a wag of his tail, where my husband leaves his clothes all over the floor.
I’ve learned to make a home for myself wherever I go. To find it in people who I love, activities that I enjoy, and memories that I create.
(Thank you to Andria for the idea for this post!)