Home is such a multi-dimensional word. It conjures up so many images and feelings: Safety. Warmth. Love. Sometimes it’s the place you grew up, sometimes not. Sometimes it’s a structure, sometimes a group of friends, or a place. It is an environment where safety exists and that touches you so deeply there is a familiarity recognized deep within. It is a place where you feel you simply belong.
I have, for much of my life, considered San Luis Obipso and the Central Coast home. It is where I was born, where my family lives, and where I have long felt “rooted”. I have spent much of my life in other places as well, though, and they offer up a familiarity as well. It is amazing to me what happens to us when we return to a former home: instant recollections of times you have forgotten and emotions stored away somewhere surface.
I just returned from a wonderful get away to visit some dear friends in two different states. The first part of my trip landed me in my old stomping grounds of Minneapolis, Minnesota, where I lived for 6 years while working for WCCO-TV. I’ve now been back “home” in California longer than I lived in the Land of 10-thousand Lakes (there are actually 11,842 in the state), but the minute I walked off the airplane, I started feeling the “Vibes of Home”. How many times had I flown in or out of this airport, stood at baggage claim waiting for some news-maker to come down the escalator so we could get a quote, or eagerly stepped out to passenger pick-up after a trip. I know this place. It knows me.
As I drove toward my destination, I didn’t need a map. I knew the routes and neighborhoods and businesses. If felt familiar and friendly. And when I pulled over to stop at one of my favorite old hang-outs, I was overwhelmed with a sense of joy. I experienced some wonderful (and yes, deeply painful) experiences in Minnesota and being here again had them floating through my mind like a movie.
The welcome I received from friends had me feeling like a child returning from a great adventure to her family. We picked up where we left off, with an eager and enthusiastic game of catch up. I was introduced to children I hadn’t met yet as “Aunt Jeanette”, and as we sat around and talked we were able to laugh at each other’s idiosyncrasies through our shared time and experiences together.
I left Minnesota largely not of my own choice. I was laid off in some downsizing of our recession and I was bewildered by the experience. It led to a chance to come home to California, though, so I celebrated the opportunity and tried to leave the pain of the losses of that time behind me. My recent return, however, reminded me of how roots once planted, always exist below the surface somewhere.
I recalled how lonely I felt when I first moved to Minnesota, how far from home…but how I found a circle of friends who were like family. I have incredibly fond memories of my time at WCCO, on sidewalk patio’s downtown and at lakeside docks. I remembered weddings and funerals, adventures and mishaps, and the ways I struggled, grew and blossomed here. My dog Madelyn’s ashes are scattered around Lake Calhoun, where we walked daily. And no doubt, some of my DNA is here as well.
After a wonderful week of catchup and re-connecting, I felt kind of re-rooted to this place I once called home. At the airport my heart smiled again as the staff at French Meadow Bakery served up a heavy dose of courtesy and kindness with every bagel and breakfast sandwich. Minnesota Nice isn’t just a saying. I had forgotten. I walked toward my gate grateful, lucky enough to experience it, and to know that anytime I visit, I will always feel the Vibes of Home here too.