What is a home? What makes one place just somewhere you’ve been while another becomes a part of you, represents you, changes you? Maybe even is you?
I’ve been to a lot of places, woken up a stranger on both coasts and a handful of locations along the way. Many of them beautiful, but they are not – nor could they ever be – home. I don't know how trees and water and soil can capture a soul, but I know I'll always have one true first love: 20 acres of land tucked away in northwest Montana.
I know every path, every turkey roost, every rise and fall of the terrain. I know the shadows where the whitetail bucks like to stand and watch the does. I know where the coyotes like to hide in the cattails. I know the best tree to sit in if you want to watch the sunset.
I know this place’s secrets, and it knows mine. The trees have seen me run around naked under branches and the summer moon. The magpies watched me scream in a hateful rage when I learned that my parents’ division of assets meant I had to move to town. The tall, wild grass held my hand a couple decades later when she did what she did.
I think everything I know about love came from those 20 acres. Maybe everything I know about anything worth knowing came from there.
I’m gone a lot, but you never forget your first love. You couldn’t if you wanted to.
If home is where the heart is, then my home – no matter where I am – will always be 20 acres of black-soiled earth tucked away in Northwest Montana.