Some of you know that I graduated from high school a year early. I skipped a year and went sailing on to college. For the entire first year I was in college, people kept asking me, "Do you regret it? Do you miss it?" And the answer was always no. Never once did I regret it. Never once did I miss it. It's been 9 years since I graduated from high school, and I still haven't regretted it for the tiniest split second. It was one of the best decisions I ever made. I sometimes missed people who were still back in Nebraska, but that's a different thing.
Nobody is asking me if I regret leaving California. Nobody is asking me if I miss it. I think everybody can hear my eyes mist over when I talk being here. I have never regretted it, not once all year. And I have not missed California. People, yes; living there, no.
I think the analogy continues, because college was not what I thought it would be. It was better. And so has it been being here, being home. It has not been a perfect year by any stretch of the imagination. But it's not just coming home. It's making it home, making it a different home than it was when we lived here before. Making it better. Richer. More full of hugs and books and good ice cream and sometimes people popping up going, "Hey, we should...."
Maybe it'll fade. Maybe I'll stop appreciating the Minneapolis skyline every time I see it. Maybe seeing the stand of yellow birches across our nearest lake will no longer steal my breath. Maybe I'll stop driving by the Lutheran church on Cedar that says "HOPE" in big letters and taking it as a specific instruction every single time. Maybe. I doubt it, though. Being away from home for four years made me awake to it, and for that I'm very grateful. Almost as grateful as I am to be back.