Driving in Austin this past weekend and in small towns around Austin, I realized once again how expansive my backyard is. It spans thousands of miles and states.
Here I was, in Texas, driving by where Micah used to play baseball, the Dennys we always stopped at before our flights, the cafe I've eaten in too many times to count, the Movie Gallery and Dominoes pizza that kept us entertained, the church where dear friends are and where mom and my stepdad were married, the gas station we frequented on our way to church. Familiar highways and roads and landmarks.
It's been a little over two years since I was in the Texas Hill Country but it felt like yesterday, really.
While we were driving to the airport (a drive that brought back tons of memories!), I was impressed (again) with the feeling of being blessed.
Blessed that I have a church family in three different states.
Blessed that I have some of the most amazing, wonderful friends and that they're EVERYWHERE - literally. Right now, off the top of my head, I could visit friends in Pittsburgh, Wisconsin, Ohio, various cities in Kentucky, Nashville, various towns in New Mexico and Texas, Washington State, Washington DC, Idaho, Atlanta, Indiana, Illinois, Alabama...
I consider myself blessed to have experienced the clear rivers in Idaho, the rain of Oregon, the humidity of Tennessee, the farmland of Illinois, the tablelands of Texas, the New Mexico mountains and sunsets, the historical beauty of the Capitol, the frozen wonderland of Minnesota and Wisconsin...
It used to bother me - the fact that I'm from nowhere and everywhere. That I don't have a hometown. That I don't have a graduating highschool class. That I don't have a church I was raised in. That I don't have a smalltown reputation. That I don't have the-place-I-grew-up place to take a future lover to in some effort of him knowing me better.
If I were to take my currently imaginary male friend to the place I grew up, we'd have to embark on a very long, cross country road trip.
But that doesn't sadden me anymore.
He would get to see the Clearwater River in Idaho where, as a teenager, I watched salmon jump from the river and saw moose and bear come to drink from it.
We would drive by an old farmhouse in a cornfield in Illinois where my little sister was born and my little brother broke his arm.
We'd visit houses in Minnesota that I helped roof and side.
We would visit a gopher field in Montana where I was impacted with the real realization and understanding that God is my Father.
I would take him to the edges of a compound in Texas where I witnessed men abusing their wives and remember my mother being called a Jezebel in front of an entire congregation.
We would visit a now-deserted campground in Kentucky where I learned to like beer and country dancing and riding horses for 8 hours a day just for the hell of it.
I'd take him to a farmhouse in Indiana where my youngest brother was born and where I watched Chuck Norris on TV.
We'd probably make a pit-stop in Wisconsin and visit my first college, the site of my first job, where I bought my first car, had my first crush.
Then we'd plunge south to New Mexico where I learned so much about myself and what I was really made of.
We'd drive by my family's old house in Kentucky where we learned to be normal and where we made mistakes in the process. I'd take him to my alma-mater and the barn I used to live in. He'd be introduced to all my friends.
Then Yellowstone where I remember as a kid, using the public bathrooms and locking up our food to keep it from the bears.
And Oregon, where, as a 9-year-old, I felt the arms of Jesus around me.
And Washington, where I experienced my first desire for a spiritual shepherd - and where I hand-quilted my first quilt.
There are so many unmentioned places. They all come rushing back in moments like this when I close my eyes.
And that's how I would take him to my hometown because my hometown is nowhere and everywhere.