What does that word mean? Is it a Place? A Person? An illusion? A chasing after the wind?
For years, I thought it a simple illusion and I really did not understand why it pained some people to move. I’ve never felt a real connection to any one place I have lived. “Home” was simply where I lived, no more and no less.
I had 13 addresses before I was 15 years old. The reasons for all those moves are complex and real and they matter, but the result is I have never been attached to one specific place. I learned that home wasn’t necessarily an address because that was sure to change.
As I became a little older and a little wiser, the definition of home became more defined. Home was not the place I metaphorically hung my hat, dropped my book bag, or parked my car. My people made my home. If I am with people I love, that’s home. It’s changed over the years. When I was young, home was with my Mom or Dad. Home was where they were. Then, it was where my husband was. Finally, home was where he and our children were. When I am with any combination of my people, I am home. That will never change.
Yet, at 51, I find my definition of home is expanding yet again.
My husband and I have been visiting Colorado the last few years, specifically, the Western Slope of the Rocky Mountains. Coming from the Midwest that seems to be gray a good part of the year, I continue to be fascinated by the deep blue sky in Colorado. It’s so beautiful it only seems possible that God himself painted it.
The initial beauty of Colorado is easiest to see in the mountains and the endless sky, but the more time I spend there, the beauty beneath the surface begins to emerge. The blooming cactus. The wide-open plains covered in tall pale grasses, dotted with black angus cattle or chestnut colored horses. There is room to think and take a deep breath.
There are multi colored rocks artfully arranged by God where my Midwest mind thinks green grass should be. Pine and cedar needles instead of leaves. Short trees instead of tall. The smell of pinion pine and sagebrush in the air.
The little puffs of dust as the dogs race over the rocky terrain. The water that runs through the arid landscape, collected from mountains to sustain the land in the hot dry summer. There is heart deep beauty there in all the little things keeping company with the magnificent mountains.
As the Western Slope’s beauty was revealed, it began to evolve into something more than simple beauty.
Each year when I cross over the Rockies and come down onto the Western Slope, I feel a sense of peace and space that I have never felt before. Describing it is like trying to grasp a wisp of smoke. It eludes me. It was impossible for me to string together the right words to convey what the feeling was.
Until earlier this year.
This year as we drove down off the mountains onto the Western Slope, into the wide open space, with the jewel blue sky overhead, that increasingly familiar and soul deep feeling of utter peace washed over me and I finally knew what it was.
It was home.
Home is the word that rolls around in my head and settles into my heart when I descend the mountains onto the Western Slope. The Western Slope has become Home to me. For the first time in my life, home is not only the people in my heart, but it truly has a physical address, too.
And, I am thankful.