Home Is Where the Heart Is
On August 17, 2006, I set out from Gold Hill, Colorado in my white Cutlass Ciera, just as the sun was starting to creep across the plains towards my summer paradise in the mountains above Boulder. A long journey lay before me. Ten hours of flat highway stretched across the plains into the sunrise and never seemed to end. I was leaving behind the only place I had ever considered home. I was a wrangler, feeding horses morning and night, filling my days with riding, saddle repair, and any of the other myriad of jobs that always needed to be done. I wasn’t there just for the money and adventure. I was there because somehow the spirit of that place had laced itself into mine and filled me with such a deep sense of purpose that I knew the Colorado Mountain Ranch was my home, and as I drove down the mountain and saw those plains rising up to meet me, I felt like I had left a part of myself back at the Ranch.
I was headed back to Kansas City for another year of community college, work, and as much fun as I could fit in between. That was about the extent of my plans. First, I had to get across Kansas. It was somewhere between the world’s largest statue of a prairie dog and the post rock country that gave us Bob Dole and Arlen Specter that my thoughts started drifting to all the places I’d called home over the last few years. Boulder, Breckenridge, and Tucson all seemed so distant now as I slowly made my way back to the place I had set out from 3 years ago. I would have gladly traded Kansas City for any of those places as I drove on through the hot Kansas summer, but a feeling in the back of my mind was urging me east.
I returned to Lawrence to find that not much had changed. I had spent so long trying to find new and exciting things, and now I was back in the “Lawrence Routine”. Still, that thought or feeling in the back of my mind kept pushing its way forward. My friends and family were all around me, and the serenity and purpose that I thought I had left at the Ranch was creeping back. But how could that be? I had been so sure that I would be miserable in Kansas that I would constantly long to return to the mountains. Surely I wasn’t considering Kansas my home! I had spent so much time and energy running from it; I couldn’t possibly still be connected to this place. But there I was, feeling good and enjoying life, wrapped in the warm embrace of home.
I suppose that there are many ways to define a home. It could be the place you feel safe, secure, or loved. It might be the place you grew up, or the place you settled down. Maybe it’s the place your family and friends are, or where you make your living. As for me, my home will always be Kansas City, because Kansas City is where my heart is.
If you enjoyed this essay, please consider making a tax-deductible contribution to This I Believe, Inc.