Home for me extends across a wide swath of the United States, urban to rural, east to southwest, birth family to chosen family. Philadelphia, my first home, is where my immediate clan resides and is buried. A two-story, red brick row home across from a yarn-dyeing factory spewing smoke from its open windows was where I grew up. Though the city is no longer home for me, my heart remains anchored to a pair of psychologist friends who live amidst the historic statues of the city’s Quaker founders and Constitutional framers.
West of the city, a chunk of my heart resides in suburban Newtown Square with a handsome, hardy nephew, his funny and food-loving wife, and two endlessly energetic children. Their love and laughter expand my heart and fuel a longing for more time spent together, a longing that distance limits.
Further west, in Chicago, a witty, wiry niece, her gentle and generous husband, and soon-to-be-born baby hold a slice of my heart. Their unexpected invitation to serve as their marriage officiant has forged a lasting bond of trust and affection.
A wedge of my heart connects with an octogenarian friend, who lives just west of Chicago in Forest Park. We have nourished each other’s feminist sensibilities for more than four decades.
Finally, I land in Santa Fe, New Mexico, a place I have called home for almost half my life. Here my heart weaves together into wholeness. At the core is a small family – my partner, her fragile mamacita, and our rescued golden retriever. We live along the historic Route 66 where our home faces Frenchy’s Field Park, coexisting peacefully with the coyotes, skunks, and prairie dogs that claim the Park as habitat. The howling, squeaking, and scent of the critters alert me that I am a long way from the city of my birth.
Beyond the park, the arroyos and foothills connect me to the desert southwest. I know I am home when I watch the harvest moon rise from behind the Sangre de Cristo Mountains, water the honeysuckle bushes thirsty for attention, and forge a tenuous relationship with the tree pollens that blow around in the spring winds.