I was watching a music video that a friend had posted on Facebook. Before I knew it, my brain was replacing the images on the computer screen with ones from my own memory.
I grew up in a small town like the one in the song.
Home for me will forever be farmers on tractors and playing barefoot. Messy ponytails and cut off jeans. Cute boys in pick up trucks and football games.
I couldn’t drive anywhere without passing a cornfield. I lost a muffler or two on the backroads of that Indiana town. It happens when your car bottoms out driving too fast over a hill. Though I’ve never seen THAT in a country music video.
I haven’t lived ‘at home’ for a very long time. My life has taken me from Florida, to California and then to North Carolina. But I still have family there and those few friends from high school who remain a part of who I am.
I should have gone back to work when the song ended but I sat there and kept thinking about home. Perhaps I was just putting off the real work to be done for the day, but suddenly I felt like Dorothy thinking ‘There’s no place like home.’
Why is that? What is it about home that always draws us back?
I’ve long outgrown the blue eye shadow and cruising in Camero’s but going back home reminds me of that girl. The little girl who loved rolling down the hill at Mamaw’s farm. The kid who convinced all the kids in the neighborhood to put on a show and make our parents pay to see it. The high school cheerleader who loved speech class. The girl who wanted to see more of the world.
My work as a journalist has given me a front seat to a lot of things most people don’t get to see, but home always gives me a front seat to those things you can’t see.
The contentment you feel sitting down for dinner in a room loud with conversation and laughter.
The connection that tugs at your heart talking to those people who have known you the longest.
The simple peace from knowing you belong.
Home is where I learned you can smell the rain coming. It’s where I learned that hard work was good work no matter what it was. It’s where I learned to cook by watching my mom.
Here’s the thing. I don’t want to stay there. I never did. But I love that no matter how long I am gone, it feels the same when I return. I swear I even hear one particular song on the radio every time. It’s like a weird Bryan Adams time warp.
Home is more than where I came from.
It reminds me of who I am even when I am not there. My adventures are bigger than rolling down a hill these days. I’m still organizing and planning. That cheerleader is very much alive only cheering for other causes. My career has put those speech classes to good use.
That’s why “there’s no place like home.”
Going home brings all of me into focus. It strips away the clutter and noise of a busy life. In the quiet of the front porch or the taste of a cold beer with my dad, I remember.
I love living outside the town limits and I love going home.