My trips to Kansas City bring a wide variety of emotions every time. I am overcome with happiness as I round I-435 South towards the town I spent my high school year’s running around with friends and getting into the normal trouble every teen does. I am also overcome with sadness as I know that my trip will end in a few days and I will head home.
Something happens every time go; a small thought comes into my head; “Should I move back?” I ponder the question the entire weekend I am there. It’s like a scale that is constantly being tipped in both directions. It tips towards KC as I am laughing with my friends. It tips towards MerCo when my sisters call asking when I’ll be back. It tips towards KC when I go shopping downtown on The Plaza. It tips towards MerCo when I’m exhausted from all of the running around and need the peace and quiet again. Then Sunday comes and its time to head back.
Every trip makes me ask myself, what it is that makes a home, “home?” What is it that gives your heart peace and makes your adrenaline rush when you know you are going home; that feeling of easiness when you know you’re almost there? It happens every time I make my way into Kansas City, but it also happens every time I come back.
I have a special relationship with my best friend’s parents. Her father is like a second father and her mother is like a second mother. Her older brother is like the older brother I never had – always wanting to meet my boyfriends and expressing his opinion of them as older brother’s do. I’ve been blessed to be welcomed into their family. Even their dog, who doesn’t love anybody, wags her tail in excitement when she sees me at her front door. This family welcomed not only me, but the group of us (the four of us girls who were and have been inseparable since freshman year), onto their back porch, with candles lit, to engage in conversation and sip coffee, as not their daughter’s best friends, but their own daughter’s as well.
When one of us died, it was only natural that we return to that back porch. I was welcomed at the front door by her father; “Welcome home,” he said with a hug and kiss on the cheek.
I had never felt more at home than in that moment. And it made me wonder why. Was it the house where we spent hundreds of nights? Was it the living room that we had so many dancing, drunken nights on and hung-over mornings together, laughing? The back porch that witnessed four girls dance naked in the rain and supported those same four girls who consoled each other over bad boys? Or was it the delicious food that her father always cooked us or the homemade salsa her brother always prepared for our arrival? Was it the bedroom that I stayed in for the summer between my freshman and sophomore year of college and the dog that snuggled me at night when I was missing my own?
So, what is it that makes a home? As that night progressed, I got my answer as I stared across the table at this family; our family – three best friends and a family who accepts them as their own.
That’s what makes a home. It’s the people sitting on the back porch at one in the morning, reflecting unconditional love towards each other in a time of ache. When he said, “welcome home,” he meant it just as much as it meant to my heart. But he could have said those same words anywhere because home is not the place, but the people.
I went home with sadness at leaving my family, having lost a sister. My fiancé was home when I got there, 5 days and 6 hours later, and greeted me, with our dogs by his side, at the door. “Welcome home,” he said with a hug and a kiss on the cheek.
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