I’M 800 MILES AWAY FROM HOME. I haven’t lived there in over 30 years, and I still call it home.
What’s up with that?
I should call it Ohio.
“I’m going back to Ohio for a visit.”
But instead I say, “I’m going home for a visit.”
I’m not sure what to make of that.
Since leaving home—Ohio, I mean—I have lived in the Kansas City burbs just about all of that time. My grown kids, who were raised here, live nearby with their spouses and dogs. I have my wife and Buddy the Dog.
This place has all the makings of a home.
Even the Kansas City Royals are on a winning streak. (They won last night, too. Don’t jinx it, don’t jinx it).
Why can’t I let go of the past and think of this place as my one and only home?
Home on the Range
Last week my little sister’s daughter moved 1,200 miles from her Ohio home. My niece, Vicki, just graduated from college with the degree she needs to teach music. She took a teaching job in a small town near the northern tip of South Dakota.
I read up on that town. I took a Google Earth street view tour of the place. Then I sent my sister and her husband a ringtone they could use whenever their daughter called.
“Oh give me a home, where the buffalo roam.”
I’ve renamed my niece: Dakota Buckeye.
She’s nothing like that.
She looks more like a porcelain doll than a Calamity Jane.
More like Victoria’s Secret than Dakota Taxidermy & Sausage
In fact, she helped pay her way through college by working at Victoria’s Secret.
I missed most of her growing up years. We don’t know each other very well. But I felt a nudge to reach out to her in a way I haven’t reached out to any of my other nieces and nephews, whom I love.
Vicki is a kindred spirit now. She’s the one who, like me, left home
- for a faraway place because that’s where her work took her, I suspect against her will—as it was for me.
- Away from everything familiar.
- To a land where she would live among people she had never met.
It was an 18-hour drive. She and her mom made it together; 10 hours the first day, 8 hours the next. Two days after that, her mom flew home to Ohio.
School starts today
It’s Vicki’s first day as a teacher.
She’s home now.
I don’t think she knows it yet. Unless she’s a quicker study than me, which would be no big surprise. But that hurt she must be feeling—homesickness, most call it—is like the pain we get from working a muscle.
Her heart is building something for her—and stretching to make room for it.
A second home.
Every bit as cherished as the first, but without displacing the first or diminishing its value.
In time, I believe, she’ll feel comfortable in both homes.
- The home of wherever she is.
- The home of where she was.
Today, I’m thinking of home.
Not so much the land, but those who have walked it with me.
And the One who is always where I’ll be.
“Lord, you have been our home
since the beginning.” (Psalm 91:1)
I know the feeling, Steve. Some days, when life weighs heavy upon me, I go to Google Earth and look at the street I grew up on — remembering when my whole world was a handful of friends, a gas station where we’d pick up some snacks and an overgrown field where we used to play baseball. In some ways, I’ll always think of that block as home, despite the fact that it’s hundreds of miles and many years from here.
Stephen M. Miller
I’ve gone to Google, too, to see the farms where my grandparents lived in West Virginia, the home of my childhood in Akron, and the home of my mom today in Ashland.
Kathy and I left OKC in 1990. We were 40 years old that year. I have thought often of the saying, “Life begins at 40.” In our case, it did not begin at 40, but sure the heck changed at 40. Since then, we’ve lived in Houston, Dallas, and, now, Overland Park, where I suspect we will be for the duration. Each cross country move has taken something out of us, but has also added to our perspective. I still consider OKC home, but Overland Park is about as nice an adopted home as one will find. I am grateful for both.
Stephen M. Miller
Well said, Tom.
Where you grow up will always be a part of you. The good memories of a simpler time last longer than the memories we would prefer to forget. While I have been blessed with opportunities to see much of this great country I am always pleased to come home. For me at least, home truly is where the heart lives.
Stephen M. Miller
Once a Buckeye, always a Buckeye.
My small family moved from Ohio to North Carolina when my son was a year old. He will turn 24 next weekend and North Carolina is all he has ever known. It is HIS home, but I still refer to Ohio as home. It is hard to believe that I have lived in North Carolina almost as long as I lived in Ohio. My son and I went to Ohio a couple of months ago to visit my mother, who suffered a massive stroke and is not doing well. I enjoyed showing places of my childhood to him, but I couldn’t tell if he was interested or just being polite. Growing up, Ohio seemed boring, but now I find it beautiful. And you are correct…once a Buckeye, always a Buckeye! I have drilled this into Ethan since he was very young…that he may have been raised in the Tarheel State, but he was born a Buckeye!
I am an Ohio girl. Been here for 72 years!! Love the place! However, my husband and I aren’t like many Ohioans who stay at home all the time… we travel all over and get to know lots of folks. We are retired educators. On our last “little travel” to Herb Shriner’s “Back Home in Indiana” state, I found your “Complete Guide to the Bible” in Shipshewana. Such an attractive refresher course!! Thank you for spending that year researching and writing such a valuable piece of literature. I love it!!
Stephen M. Miller
Hey there, Buckeye. Thanks for the kind words. Good to know that my book is in Shipshewana. I didn’t know there was a Shipshewana to be in. God bless all the souls there.