No Place Like It

I used to think of "home" as a tangible thing. It was some immutable place that I could pinpoint on a map and find with a compass. It was a place you could get to by boat or a train, even if it was far far away. Landmarks showed the way and gave flavor to worn, familiar paths. "Home" had a welcome mat and a front door. I used to think that "home" was a brick-and-mortar establishment.

After a week abroad,  I realize that I was wrong. And I'm glad of it.

Home is much stronger than four walls and a red dot on a GPS. As I witnessed when traipsing around my old stomping grounds this past week, places change. Schools are torn down and re-built. Businesses fold. Houses crumble. Roads are widened and those paths shift in new directions, tributaries that dry or swell with time.

Home isn't tangible. It isn't a stationary place, nor is it something I can pack on my back and take with me. (More is the pity.) Home is not a house, but the memories found there. Home is not a door mat, but the welcoming smile above it. Home is made by the people around you.

Last week, I went to Indiana and saw family and friends I haven't seen in too many years. I went home. I was with people I love and that love me in return. Today, I got on a series of planes and flew 1700 miles back to Phoenix. Home. My daughter's arms around my neck, husband's lips against my cheek, all in one delicious and warm embrace: Home. This kind of dual citizenship was, at a time, confusing. Much like the parable about  a man's inability to serve two masters, how can someone feel perfectly at home in more than one place?

My home is a nomadic one. And I'm glad. Because it won't be overgrown by weeds or commerce. It is wherever my Ohana is.

My family. Of blood and of choice.