Listening to: Miscellaneous James Taylor
I can say without hesitation that Minnesota is the state that is my home away from home. But I can also say that living in a place does not make it home. Home comes with love and affection, growth and triumph, change and hard times and a support system that will not fail you. If you have come to call a place home do it alone, it is not really home.
Think of it this way - define home. What are automatic shoe-ins of your home base? What keeps it that way?
Between the snowy winters of Minnesota, humid summers of Ohio and the rainy days I spent running the back roads in Ireland, somehow those 3 places fit. People and experiences combined to create the distinct feeling of being home. I was not alone and I found myself in a certain chapter of my very own novel that unfolded and started to write itself. God and his fingertips typing away - writing the moments in the sun and the ones in the shade - none of which I regret.
Minnesota and I had a long hard run, and it wasn't always a place I loved or wanted to be. It was a long and winding road, filled with struggles and dream crushing moments. My brother-in-law and sister took amazing care of me in those first few years - whisking me away - my rescuers - to a place where I felt safe and sound - and a little more like myself. At that time, Minnesota was the epitome of difficulty and I struggled with every moment I had committed myself to being here.
Then one day I stumbled across a group of girls - several of whom I knew to see on campus, but none of which I was close acquaintances or even friends with. They in themselves became my silver lining, Minnesota. For 2 years, I was blessed with a houseful (9 of us) of 20-something girls. We fought with each other, debated social issues, drank too much, cried over boys, cried over school, worked our butts off, cooked, talked, movie watched, danced and played together. Suddenly, I had family - a gaggle of sisters who shared with me. And in these moments these girls and I began to carve out a bit of home - and it was the first time I was glad I had chosen to be where I was in the arctic tundra of winter-ass-cold Minnesota.
So, now I have come to a place I call my second home to visit my family - the immediate and extended versions. I have a lot to celebrate. My first niece is now 6 months old. To play and laugh and be ever fondly "Titi CeCe" - titi is short for auntie in Spanish. I have a beautiful, strong, amazing sister, who I have watched, from a few years behind, as she has grown and changed and became the best wife and mother I can imagine. I have a funny, spirited, honorable brother-in-law who I have gotten to know over the last 15 years, who teases me and in this time has become my real-deal brother.
In the spirit of celebration, my extended Minnesota family - my housemates - college sisters come together to celebrate the life of one of the most vibrant people I have ever known. You see a few years ago we lost one - a housemate, a friend, a roommate, a confidant, a home base, a sister. She was caught in the middle of a senseless and unfathomable crime and taken from us. To this day I struggle to realize the fact that she is indeed gone. I can still hear her voice and her laugh and remember her very unique light she had about her. I carry a little bit of her with me every day. In a funny way she has become the glue to our gaggle of girls - all of us in different spaces and places in our lives - but because we all knew and loved her together, only we can relate to the struggle that each of us feel right around this time of year to be without her. And so, a group of girls who could have chosen to go their own ways have learned to call each other family - over heartache, heartbreak, triumph, joys, weddings, new additions, new jobs, new boyfriends, new opportunities, new home-bases, finding family and growing one. I know I will know these girls when I'm 40, 65 and hopefully 90.
And this is what I ponder on a 13 hour drive - How is it that a group of maybe unlikely friends learned to call each other family? How is it possible for people who touch your life for just a second have the ability to make such an impact? - when they go away - when they aren't what they once were - when they are gone forever - or what new people in your life have the potential to be. And after all of that, who you are when all those things are coming and then gone - all the ways I have changed and evolved. I have thought and prayed about all the what ifs and could bes or maybes - I am learning to surrender all these uncontrollable things to God and let the paving of the path be left to its rightful owner - and yes, even on my long drive I was reminding myself of this. Everything can change in a second. That is the funny and amazing thing about life. It is very possible for the heartache to break you, but isn't it amazing how resilient the heart is? I have learned in all of these things to take courage and live life with everything you've got while you've got it - and I certainly will.
So as I leave you, I hope, amidst your long drives - that my funny, fluffy, floating perspective on life reminds you not only who you want to be, but hopefully too of the perspective you have. You can always change your stars - half of the difficulty is in the way you see them.