When asked, “where is your home?” many will automatically recite their current address. For others who thrive on nostalgia, the word “home” may conjure up past memories. Instead of their present abode, their response may focus on their parent’s home. People who are either unsettled or in a state of flux, long for something not yet attainable. A limited or vague response may follow. Whether one’s version of home is in the past, present, future or a combination of different points in time, everyone possesses their own version of home. For many, it is as simple as the adage, “Home is where the heart is.”
When I moved away from the Chicago metropolitan area over a decade ago, my feelings regarding my home became splintered. Where was my heart? It was stuck in limbo between a wide array of childhood and adult memories and the thrill of a new adventure.
My roots had been severed, but not enough time had passed for new seeds to be sowed. The transition period became a fertile period of growth as I established a new home life and comfort zone. Yet when I made annual pilgrimages to Chicago, a slight tugging feeling remained. I longed for the secure feeling that comes with living in the same place for decades.
Last weekend, I returned to Chicago once again. Like many visits in recent years, I no longer looked upon the northern suburbs as my home. I had no trouble navigating the streets or traveling from point A to point B. Most things remained the same. Indulging in high caloric treats added to the nostalgia of days past, but did not connect me with the present. Friends and family members had moved on with their lives and I was now on the periphery. The closeness we once shared was minimized by distance. I was viewed as an infrequent visitor.
Traveling into Chicago made me fearful. A city that I always loved to explore had become a police state in response to threats made by anarchists who were protesting the NATO conference. Uniformed and undercover police were everywhere and had a commanding and intimidating presence. The Loop was devoid of the massive streams of people who usually engulf the sidewalks and streets during rush hour. It was surreal to see the entire length of the Michigan Avenue Bridge lined with police. I had not seen such a display of force since I left India.
Once back in Denver, I looked forward to seeing the majestic mountains in the distance and returning to the peaceful and familiar surroundings of my home. I had enjoyed reconnecting with my past, but it was time to return to the here and now. Chloe, our adorable calico cat, greeted us affectionately as soon as we entered the door. I was content to be home.