10/15/10

Where the Heart Is

Everyone (especially my Dad, who loves his girls)
is probably a little sick of hearing me talk about New York City. It's my happy place: full of life, career prospects, great food, incredible events and hidden gems of silence in the midst of its chaos. My mind is overwhelmingly full of the possibilities that this city affords.

But while my mind, my energy and my hope is in New York City, my heart is in my hometown. I am reminded of this each time I return to its restaurant-less, beach-loving, family-oriented bliss.

This weekend I am enjoying the much-anticipated tradition of quad break. I had planned to spend the long weekend with my good friend Erica in West Palm Beach, but the plans did what they tend to do - change. I've spent the last three days with family, soaking up their love as only a college student can understand. It's a place of blessing where your heart feels so comfortable, you can almost feel its relief from outside stress.

When I first began to wrestle with the thought of growing up, I would sit on the couch, flop myself over so that my legs rested against the back cushions and view the living room from an upside-down position. I imagined this was how things used to feel when I was smaller - when I didn't see things as they actually were. Somehow I liked that perspective, however warped and delusional it was. Now that I live in Massachusetts, send texts to my sister referring to our childhood home as "Mom and Dad's house", and am allowed to have my husband upstairs with me, I don't need to sit upside down to remember what it was like to be a child. Oddly enough, it's clearer to me now, not by power of contrast to my new life but by the recognition of the people who have made this house my home.

On Wednesday, my Dad took me out flying with him. He handed me the controller, promised he wouldn't let me crash his model plane and stood obnoxiously close as I quickly maneuvered the plane to near-destruction. True to form, he snatched the controller away in time to avoid catastrophe, probably a little agitated by my ineptitude. But, unlike my 7-year-old self trying to make a diorama and growing frustrated with his frustration, my 21-year-old self laughed. He expects a lot from me, but he also loves me beyond words and, no matter how old I get, he'll always be my Dad.

That's what home is. It's the mix of expectation and love that drive you to be the person you've become. It's the mother's arms that rush to hug you before you put your bags down. It's the note she leaves on the counter to remind you to call. It's the little sister who tries not to smile when you pick her up from Driver's Ed. It's the brother who brings 7-ft Elephant Ear plants into the house. It's the nights of Chinese food at your older sister's house. It's the days of shopping and laughing with your mother-in-law and teasing your brother-in-laws. It's the way your father-in-law won't call you anything but "DIL" (or "Dilly") for the rest of your life.

On the drive down, Blake finally acquiesced. "We can live in New York City if you get a job there," he told me. It was as if he had announced that Christmas was coming early. Everything within me jumped at the thought. Well, almost everything. My heart is at home. I think I'll keep it there.

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