I often think back to all of the nights I spent driving. Nights on end, mornings before the sun graced the earth with her presence, alone or with a handful of friends. We would get my beat-up old car, which that had the potential for stranding us in the middle of nowhere, and just drive. On those drives we would soar across the flat, dismal landscape towards a brighter and more colorful location, the mountains. A twenty-minute drive brought me to my paradise-the place I call my home. While I lived in the city that I looked down upon, Fort Collins, it contained every relationship, heartbreak, and dream that I had. Sometimes I felt suffocated there. Away from that, from everything, I was able to find the peace and comfort that people might spend their whole lives searching for. Driving down winding roads, passing elk, and tourists, the mountains were an endless home for me to explore. I could be wandering aimlessly for hours, hiking to peaks, gazing at valleys below, or holed up in a cabin by a lake. It did not matter, as whatever I was doing brought me to the same place, the place inside of me that feels like I am home.
This feeling does not always happen every time I step outside or into nature. My home truly is in the Rocky Mountains, where secret locations hide my dreams and fears. The places I would run away to all mean more to me than walls ever could. While I love my family and our house, they would not exist without these places.
My family raised me alongside winding rivers, soaring eagles, and purple mountains. The earth did not create these as a gift to me or anyone else who was lost in their endless beauty, but I am eternally grateful for them. Home to me is not a place where I have a roof over my head, or a place to sleep. Instead it is something simpler- it is the place where I am able to forget myself and connect to the world around me.