What makes a home? What creates the place one calls home, and how does one decide and know when that magical, safe, glorious, beautiful place deserves the appellation "home"? I have been rolling this concept around in my brain and heart recently, as I travel between two places that are dear to my heart, one for years now, and one more recently and unexpectedly: Torrey, Utah, and Durango, Colorado.
As I mentioned in an earlier post, Torrey--Wayne County--is my home in many ways. I was not raised there, and I have only known it for eight years now. But it is dear to me, it calls to me, and the human inhabitants know me. I feel secure and safe as I tool around there in my truck--I know where I am, I know what to expect, and the very land speaks to me in way that breathes and murmurs, This is home. The hidden, secret spots. The ridiculously gorgeous views that can be had from almost any vantage point in the county. The bright blue sky (well, not so much as of late, due to fires up north, but still) framing the red rocks. The way you can go on a hike and not see another single person for miles, literally. Golden and bald eagles circling or feasting on roadkill (yep, not too pretty, but that's the truth of those great birds). Walking up to the bank teller, who calls you by name. Or the grocery store clerk. The postmaster. The restaurant owner. The woman who cuts your hair. If you were raised in a small town, this will sound familiar, perhaps too intimate. I was raised in Southern California. For me, this is really cool.
The other place that has grown on me in the past year is Durango. I had an interesting time there overall. Happy times, rocky times, in-between times (like everywhere, no?). Over the winter, I said, This is not the place for me. This is not my home. This is not where I belong. Yet slowly, it creeped up on me. I really began to appreciate this place and its unique spots. The Animas River walk, where I spent many a leisurely hour strolling, alone or with friends, watching the rushing water. Junction Creek, where I have spied a raven's nest and smiled congenially at other hikers or runners or bikers (when I didn't frown because the latter tried to plow me down as they came zipping down the trail at inhuman speeds). The two health food stores here that I haunt, Nature's Oasis and Durango Natural Foods. The local, independent bookstore, Maria's Bookshop, filled to capacity with books, posters, cards, journals, and other happy browsers lost in many different worlds. And here, too, I can be walking or driving and see people I know, people who call my name and say hello.
How cool is that?
Something else I like about Durango is that it reminds me of South Pasadena, where I spent my high school years and where my mother still resides. Some of the downtown Durango streets are leafy, shady, filled with turn-of-the-last-century homes, graceful and reminiscent of the East, and also of South Pasadena. I noticed that right off the bat when I moved here last year, and immediately felt soothed by it.
Hmm. So I don't know if I've clearly articulated what home means. But you get the drift. And so what makes a home for you? Or rather, what makes your home?