On Monday, I returned to Los Angeles after spending 10 days in Nashville, St. Louis, and Bloomington, Indiana.
My friend Kailea and I headed to Nashville for a last summer hurrah before school starts back up. We stayed with my cousin, her fiancé, and their sweet old man dog. We drank Bushwackers, danced in honky tonk bars, and then ate pizza at 2:00am. We also cuddled on the couch and made vegan soup. This combination of rest and play, family and close friends, warm blankets and dog cuddles, this felt like home.
Kailea and I then rented a car and headed to St. Louis, my hometown. Recently, my parents sold their house and I had to use a GPS to get to my new home, which felt a little strange. But despite the moving boxes and tubs of pictures waiting to be hung, I knew instantly that this place was home too. My mom was soon inside, cooking dinner. My parents dogs ran through the yard. We set the table in the dinning room, which doesn’t have a light fixture yet. But my family plugged in lamps and lit candles. We grabbed plates of food and a seat. We ate and laughed so hard that my eyes teared up. Yes, yes, wherever my family is, that is home.
Kailea flew back to LA the next morning and I stayed in St. Louis for a few days. I read in the backyard, ran with my dad, and ate food made with love.
Then, I drove northeast for four hours, and arrived in my college town, Bloomington, Indiana. I reconnected with an old friend, and was reminded of the magic of this small town. There were some new businesses and heaps of new students. But the kindness and love that makes Bloomington Bloomington remained. I remembered what it felt arriving as a freshman. Even though I was nervous, Btown’s warmth surrounded me and I knew I would be ok.
A few days after leaving Bloomington I texted another college friend saying how magical the town will always be. “Ahhh, our forever Disney World.” she responded. Wherever life takes me, Bloomington will always represent a piece of home for me as well.
I drove back to St. Louis, spending one final day with my family, before hopping on a plane and heading to my current home: Los Angeles.
Los Angeles is home.
To be honest, I never thought I would believe that. It took me a long time to see Los Angeles this way. I remember a time when it felt like I couldn’t breathe in L.A. I only saw traffic and T-shirts that cost $80. I yearned for the midwest. Eventually though, I began to search out the beauty. I met inspiring girlfriends and decided to learn to surf. I look Millie (the pup) on solo hikes, just the two of us. I planned weekend adventures for my man and I and invited friends over for dinner. Slowly but surely, my view began to change.
Mostly though, what I’ve learned is that home is being with the people you love. Home is family, given and chosen. Home is getting off a plane, and having someone there ready to hug you up. Monday night, as Alex, Millie and I cuddled on the floor, I thought to myself “Yes indeed, this is home to me.”