A few weeks ago I was in Boulder, Colorado for less than 48 hours for a job interview (didn’t get the job, it’s totally OK, another story for another time). When the plane landed in Denver I started crying (with my face turned to the window, of course, so no one could see). I felt giddy and nervous, not because of the job interview, but because I was home. It was such a relief, not only to be there but also because that feeling confirmed that moving back to Colorado is the right thing.
The decision to move back to Colorado wasn’t a difficult one; by this time last year – just three months into my move to Michigan – I already knew I wanted to return. Making that decision reality was harder. I mean, it took me another nine months after realizing it’s what I wanted to actually push go and make it happen. And, since I did that, I’ve obsessed over whether or not it really is the right thing.
In some moments I feel like I can physically hear the chaos roaring like a tornado or a stormy ocean in my head. I have thought about backing out of it dozens of times, which is why I’m so grateful that I had those 48 hours in Colorado.
It reminded me of how Colorado makes me feel. It’s my place. It’s my home. And living away from it just isn’t an option because when I’m not there a part of me is missing. I’ve struggled to explain this to friends and family over the years, and especially lately as I try to explain why I need to be in Colorado even though leaving my family and loved ones in Michigan will surely break my heart. And then, on a recent episode about place on the Dear Sugar Radio podcast, author and Colorado-dweller Pam Houston explained it perfectly.
“When I got out West… I felt like I was under the right sky. Every time, even now, when I fly home, even just at the Denver airport… just getting out to my car at the Denver airport, I can feel my whole body relax, you know? There’s something really chemical and really physical about it. I love the places I travel to… but every time I come home, it’s like there’s something about the quality of the light in the sky, there’s something about the big-ness of the sky. It really happens on a cellular level and I just feel like every day here is better than any day anywhere else.”
As I listened to the rest of the episode, in which Houston and the podcast’s hosts Cheryl Strayed and Steve Almond answered listener letters on the topics of home and place, it occurred to me how lucky I am to have found my home and to feel such a connection to a place and to have the freedom, means and support to move myself back there.
I know not everyone grapples with the concept of place as much as I have. I suspect some lucky folks feel it in the place where they were born and/or raised. Some are still searching. And I think there are also those who don’t know they’re looking for their place and one day will stumble on it and become overwhelmed by the feeling of finally coming home.
In just 10 short days I’ll be returning to my home and even as my head spins from the chaos of moving logistics and my heart is heavy and aching at the thought of leaving my loved ones, when I think about seeing that wide-open Colorado sky and those mountains in the distance – this time ahead of me, rather than in my rearview mirror – I can’t help but feel calm and sure.
P.S. I’m celebrating Bright Stars Big Mountains’ third anniversary this month. Funny enough, my first post here was on this very subject. Click here to (re)read it, if you like.
Also, check out my recent interview with my friends over at Insider Families, one of my favorite travel blogs. We chatted about home, writing and a few of my favorite destinations.