Welcome Home

There may be nothing better than hearing a 10 year old run the length of "arrivals" at full speed outside the airport into her uncle's arms.

Feelings. All of them. At the same time.

After flying through the night, exhausted and hungry, I didn't think I'd be so weepy and sentimental. I usually save those feelings for viewing videos of animals that are unlikely best friends (Mr. G and Jellybean? Cue the curtain of sobbing). But I kind of stayed exhausted, hungry and sentimental for four days.

I have had a complicated relationship with Bedford, Michigan, my hometown, ever since I left as red-faced angry 18 year old. Even though I had so much to complain about, I showed it off to my college friends like a badge of honor when we'd take turns visiting each others hometown on weekends when campus was boring. But when I came back to live as an adult 10 minutes from Bedford, and fell in love and married a Bedford native, there was still a feeling that I hadn't "made" it because there was a lot of the world that I hadn't seen yet. We got married and eventually made enough money to travel, which opened up life-changing doors as I type this in my cozy west shore apartment, free from stifling humidity and poisonous insects.  But the complicated relationship stood when I left, and I had to somehow rationalize living "here" instead of "there" by qualifying my hometown as a cesspool of socially conservative dude bros that have green slime water and are afraid of diversity. And I, the chosen one, live in a mountain utopia, free from ignorance, negative wind chills and scabies.

You know, some of it's true.

But what I learned when flying into Detroit last weekend is that although there are butt holes everywhere, I am from an amazing place. And I was able to finally see how beautiful home is, and was, and how many people I know that fill up my heart with all that is made up of videos of unlikely animal best friends. Lots of healing. Lots of feelings. Lots of alcohol. Just a perfect weekend.

Friday started off like many from my past. Mud Hens. Adam Street. Old School Hip Hop Night and Mac and Cheese at the Attic. Going to bed way too late. This time I met someone from Oakland because of course I did.

Shane provided jokes and an external-hard-drive-of-a-brain about all things baseball.

I got to meet this guy....and this gal smiled a whole bunch :)

Riggins! She's like if there was a human made out of sparkles and a million smiles.

My sister-cousin came and we bebop-d to old school hip hop whilst leaning on the Wesley's patio bocce court. Perfect? Yes.

The first night ended with Taco Bell in my sister-in-law's mom car and Shane turning into Mush Mouth.

It's amazing how many perfect moments happened. The weather was perfect. The water didn't kill us. There wasn't a lot of thinking about securing the trash from the bears (weird).

Saturday was spent on Schnipke's Lake watching Onnica make sand castles.

Onnica, soon-to-be 2nd grader and sand artist

Paul spent some quality time with his dudes, Josh and Tony.

I forgot what it felt like to be able to see for miles.....

The best Saturday in a long time!

We spent our Saturday night in Josh's "man cave" although I think we agreed to call it something else because the women were enjoying it just as much as the men.

There is NOTHING better than looking around a table and seeing some of your best friends. All in the same room. Poker!

30th birthday present from my brother: Voltron tattoos! Lindsay and I looked pretty tough....Note: Shark and yo-nau tattoo sold separately.

Sunday was the big surprise birthday day for my dad's 60th birthday. Although he came home an hour early and there were only a handful of guests there to surprise him, the day was great. Lots of relaxing with my family, sharing family stories and soaking in time with people who look like me and act like me and have to love me because it's their job.

My niece, Vera, proudly wearing the necklaces I got her in Hawaii.

The hammock triangle in my dad's backyard!

Sunday night, the full moon rose over my dad's subdivision trees. He took out his telescope and we took turns peering into the cheese moon. A sinking feeling started, something I hadn't experienced when I visited last. I really didn't want to leave. I didn't get enough time to squeeze my nieces and nephews. I didn't get the chance to ask my grandma how to make the lima bean sauce. I needed a couple more days, or just to be at the farm for a few more weeks. And then I got really sad.

The very last day, it rained hard. We spent the last few hours on the farm, stomping around in my wellies and remembering how amazing this perfect place makes me feel.

The garden. We got married at this exact spot nearly 4 years ago....

Just picked. Nothing like it.

My dad and I wandered around the farm, talking about asparagus, shooting crows, drying black beans, the frozen pond that killed all the fish and the giant ancient red cedars that line the garden like soldiers standing in attention. The sinking feeling rose again and I realized that I need more weekends like these. I spent so many weekends of my past on the farm and I still feel like I never got enough time. The older I get, the more I want to be just like my grandma, living on the land she was raised on.

For so long, discomfort , being in a "bad" place motivated change. Now it's just so different.  I am from a beautiful place and I live in a beautiful place. And I'm realizing now, more than ever, that anger, resentment, having to divide the "good" and "bad" into "pro" and "con" lists is not going to motivate the next change - that will all happen on its own. That "good" and "bad" qualities are illusions - a simple way of trying to understand or figure out a complex issue in your mind. But it's not reality.

The length of the list of why I live in Tahoe is long but somehow it never equals the feeling the farm gives me or playing catch with my dad. 

I've never been able to figure out what to do with that. 

I sobbed on the plane ride home but eventually came to the point that I'm so grateful for understanding how lovely every breath is, and that each breath is the same, no matter where I am. 

It felt incredible to drive back from the Reno airport to Homewood. It's a strange feeling returning from home to home. Our jobs, our guinea pig, our pots and pans, our lives are here. So did we go on vacation or are we on vacation now? Both?

It's so true: it doesn't matter where you're at, it's what you do with the minutes you are given. And for the first time in my life, vacation never seems to end, whichever home I'm returning to. What an incredible feeling.

Thanks for the incredible weekend, Mitten and surrounding area. I'll be back in December, expecting a Christmas Eve snowstorm that doesn't delay the planes as I would like to craft a fish made out of snow and crochet next to a fireplace that means something. Take note.