I’m resting, curled up with a pot of chocolate chai tea that I purchased at a little tea shop in La Conner, Washington, during the recent tulip festival. My day began early, and I’ve already repotted some plants, prepared strawberries for freezing, and put away laundry. I’ve opened the patio door to let fresh air in, and in the distance I can hear the clanging of a buoy. The garden awaits, but the day is long in the Pacific Northwest in June, so I have plenty of time.
After three short trips in quick succession, I am home, probably for the summer. There may be weekend jaunts to hiking spots nearby, but I am nestled in for now. I am tired from my travels but ready and eager to return to my routine. After a little more than a year here, with plenty of adjustments along the way, I finally feel like Port Townsend is home.
Funny thing about “home,” though. Its definition has expanded over time.
We made our first of the three trips to Peoria, Illinois, where I was born and where my parents still live. Even now, when I tell people I’m going to Peoria, I say, “I’m going home.” We moved several times during my childhood to different towns, and I didn’t live in the house we went to visit — my parents bought that after I had left home. I graduated from high school in a small town about an hour north of Peoria. Still, Peoria is where family gathers, so it is still “home” to me. As we all age and various health issues reveal themselves, those visits home take on increasing levels of sweetness.
Our second trip was to British Columbia. In 2010, when we visited this Canadian province for the first time, I told Henry, “I could be done traveling. I just want to be here.” I fell in love with the climate, the terrain, the fresh food, and the people. Had the Canadians wanted us, I would have happily moved there. Our visits to British Columbia informed our decision to move to the Olympic Peninsula, where we can enjoy similar terrain…and still run off to BC when the move strikes us, because it’s just a few hours away.
Our final leg of the trilogy was to Houston, where we attended our nephew’s high school graduation. Though we no longer live there, much remains familiar. We visited a few of our favorite restaurants and museums. We drove by our old house, which the new owners have remodeled and made their own. We shopped in a funky older neighborhood where I once lived for ten years. Though Houston is always changing, it was a relief to visit a place where we know our way around.
When I stepped off of the plane at the Seattle airport Sunday evening, a fresh, cool breeze greeted me. We made the two-hour drive home from the airport as the sun started to set, greeted by the familiar tree sentinels lining the road and cloaking us in silence. We arrived late to empty, hushed streets, and made our way to the cozy bed that nurtured us into a dreamless sleep until the early morning sun nudged us awake to the first of many summer days at home.
There is no place like home, and I am thrilled to be here. Perhaps, though, as I look back at our travels, home exists wherever we want it to, whenever we are there.