I don't think I ever completely understood what "home is where the heart is" meant until my current trip to my birthplace of Evansville, Ind.
I came down to visit family and friends. I grew up here and didn't leave until my junior year of college when I transferred to Indiana University.
It has always been home. When I spent summers in Florida with my dad. When I went off to college. When I first moved to northern Illinois for my first job out of college. Always.
But I'm not so sure anymore. This is the first whole week I've spent in Evansville since getting married three years ago, and the feeling is different this time. Not bad, but different.
I've lived in northern Illinois since November 2003, starting out in La Salle and slowly making my way closer and closer to Chicago before finally landing in the Lakeview neighborhood late this summer. And while I certainly can't claim that Chicago feels like home yet, southern Indiana doesn't anymore either.
I love seeing family and friends, and I'm thoroughly enjoying my stay, but it no longer feels like I'm coming home. It's more like paying a visit to an old haunt – a place etched deep in your heart, but untethered to your soul.
Where exactly is home then? Maybe someplace in between? (Hopefully not on one of those central Indiana wind farms, though. Those places would give me the creeps at night. And home should not give you the creeps at night unless you're in a bad movie starring Daniel Craig and a weird house.)
So, no, that's not the answer.
Perhaps the better question is where my heart resides. And my heart resides where my life is. And my life, simply put, is wherever my wife and I are. And for now, that's in Chicago.
I've led a nomadic life most of my 30 years. The longest I've ever lived in one place is probably three years or so. Eventually, my wife and I will want a house. Maybe in Chicago. Maybe in the suburbs. Maybe in some other city neither of us have ever considered. And when we do move, that place will be home.
For some, home will always be the place where they grew up. But I can't live that way. For me, home is where the heart is. And, believe me, I know this sounds hokey, but my heart is with my life and my wife. (It's okay. Feel free to gag. I'm even doing so a little bit.)
It's been a nice trip to Evansville – and as with all trips, I'm sure it will end a few days too soon – but when it's done, when I board that Amtrak train back to Chicago – I'll also be looking forward to coming home. Home, sweet home, Chicago.
Filed under: Columns