Tuesday, February 16, 2016

What is Home?

I've lived in Michigan for ten years, but it still doesn't feel like home. I've recently come to the realization that it may never. There are things I really love about living here, and there are things I really do not love about living here. My husband and son are here. I have amazing friends, a house I love and a job I'm passionate about. There's a lot to love, but then there are the things I hate. I hate the winter. I hate it with a fiery passion. Even this mild winter annoys me. Granted with climate change winter is kind of weird everywhere, but it really gets to me. I hate that there's no sunlight. It is depressing. I wish I didn't have to drive so much. Even living downtown still requires lots of driving in Michigan because this place was built for cars and discourages any other kinds of transportation. But really what it all comes down to is that this just doesn't feel like home.

I only lived in Morgantown, West Virginia for six years. My parents have lived there for the last decade, and it's where I visit them. Despite having lived there less time than Michigan and despite my mother currently living in a house where I never lived, it feels like home. I consider that city my home. When I'm driving to West Virginia and the flat grade of the Ohio Turnpike turns to curvy hills in southern Pennsylvania, my pulse quickens. I feel like I'm going home. 

Even living in Norfolk, Virginia - where I only lived for a few years - feels more like home. When we're driving there and get to the Hampton Roads Bridge Tunnel crossing the Chesapeake Bay, I feel like I'm coming home. Having worked for the Mayor I feel a sense of pride in seeing buildings that were only renderings a decade ago come to life. The downtown and neighborhoods are so dense with narrow streets. That density makes me feel like the city is giving me a hug. I dig it.

I lived in Texas for a few years in the early part of the new millennium. The flat, open terrain in Texas often made me feel lonely. There were no mountains; no dense configurations of tall buildings to box me in. It felt like the landscape went on forever, and that's part of what made it not feel like home. 

In some ways Michigan feels like Texas to me. Sure it's greener, and the weather is certainly different. But it's flat and vast, and it feels oddly desolate at times. I crave density whether it's in the form of cities or mountains. This vast expanse of flat space (sometimes in the form of insanely wide streets in a downtown) makes me anxious.

Last weekend I headed home to Morgantown to visit my mom. It was my first solo road trip with the baby, and I was anxious. We left in the late afternoon, and he was the perfect traveling companion. I'm not naive enough to assume he's always going to be this easy, but as long as he is I'll enjoy it. 

We spent the weekend hanging out with my mom, relaxing, eating at my favorite places and buying copious amounts of West Virginia gear. We watched the Olympic Marathon trials, and I may have cried a little bit when Kara Goucher placed fourth to barely miss making the Rio marathon team.  
Watching the Olympic Marathon Trials with my little dude.

My weekend at home was exactly the reset I needed. Single digit temperatures and negative wind chills gave me the excuse I needed to stay inside and not run while I was there. It was perfect, however, to relax and be still for a few days.

I'm focusing on cross training and easy running for the rest of February before starting my 5k training schedule with a vengeance the first of March. My husband bought me a fancy new Garmin for Valentine's Day (even though I've tried so hard not to be techie), but it's going to be super helpful for working on speed. My speed goals are ambitious, but it's going to be fun to give it a shot. After all if everything seems under control, I'm clearly not going fast enough. 

(Also as a followup to last week's blog, check out this gem. I've still got it!)


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