Where Is Home?

Person I’ve just met: “Where are you from.”
Me: “Well… um… I’m kinda from Omaha. But I’m not really from there.”
Person: “Huh?”
Me: “Well, I’ve lived there half of my life. But I don’t have any roots there. (Pause) It’s complicated.”
Person: “…I’ve never been to Omaha.”
Me: “It’s a lot cooler than you’d think.”

I’ve had this conversation 16,000 times. My relationship with Omaha, Nebraska is complicated and often difficult to explain… especially when I begin to ask myself, “Where is home?”

My ancestral roots are in Alabama, but I’ve never lived there. Both of my parents grew up in Birmingham, and most of our extended family is there. My parents left after college, and I was born in Atlanta. My dad’s corporate career led us all over the country, and in the late 80’s we landed in Omaha. I moved away three times… and kept coming back. I don't live there anymore, but I still know it better that any other city. Some of my closest friends live there. Yet somewhere deep down, I still don’t feel like I'm from there. 

Where is home?
Is it the place where your family origins are found?
Is it the city where you've spent the most time?
Is it a house? 

The reality for me is that I can’t make home fit into a city. Home doesn’t have an address. It’s neither familiar streets nor the ones my grandparents walked down.

Home is the silly side of my wife that no one really knows about. Home is my mom’s cinnamon rolls on Christmas morning. It’s the way my Dad says “Roll Tide” even when there’s not a football game on. Home is seeing the Eiffel Tower lit up at night, and it’s traversing the Golden Gate Bridge on foot in a downpour. Home is those Sunday mornings when I can actually feel something stirring deep down while I sing.

They say home is where the heart is.
I think I have to agree.

Tim Wildsmith