I frequently see a car in our neighborhood with a bumper sticker that reads "home is where the hand is," with an outline of Michigan's lower peninsula - the mitten. I smile when I drive by thinking of all the times I've held my hand up and pointed to the spot where I grew up. Lately though, I've been thinking about where home really is. I was born in Wisconsin, lived 26 years in Michigan, and in the time since have called Memphis, Seattle, Minneapolis, and now Denver, home. I'm on the road a lot for work and often wake in the night having to remind myself of where I am - sometimes even when I'm in my own bed. On a recent trip to Minneapolis, the place I lived longest as an adult, I reflected on how nice it was knowing where things are - favorite shops, restaurants and some of my favorite people. "Maybe this will always feel like home," I thought, as I drove through the the city with a friend one night. Maybe home is the place you feel the greatest kinship - the place that's most familiar.
And then I flew back to Denver. I drove home toward snow capped mountains on a glorious blue sky morning and was comforted by my breathtaking view. Still, I wasn't sure about this whole "home" thing. I wondered, could a place I'd lived just over a year and a half really be home? I remembered telling our son, who is away at college and has never lived full-time in Colorado, that I understood if he didn't think of our home in Denver as his home. It didn't bother me at all that he referred to his school in Missouri as home - though I noticed that he also referred to Colorado as home, even with the little time he had spent within its borders. And that's when it occurred to me: home isn't a place. Places are familiar. Places are comfortable, engaging, fun to visit - or live in. But home, for me, is a feeling of belonging. It's the space where I can be myself and where I can work on becoming an even better version of myself. It's where I can be vulnerable and where I can celebrate my accomplishments. It's where I am who I am, with the people who encourage me to be that person. And that means I have a few special places to call home, including the city I am learning my way around in - that I'm becoming familiar with.