No matter where I live for the remainder of my life, Jackson, Miss., will always be home to me. And not just Jackson, my parents house will always be home to me.
I won't be going to visit my parents. I'll be going home.
Because home is where you are who you are. All of the time.
Home is where you know you're loved, without even having to hear someone say it.
Home is where you're greeted at the door with a smile, a hug so tight it makes you dizzy and a wet, slobbery kiss from the dog that you swear is annoying one minute and is the cutest little puppy in the world the next.
Home is where every single member of your family is. It's where you mind is flooded with memories the minute you step in the door, no matter how far back they take you.
Anecdotes and stories are a staple in family conversation. And there's a song for each one of them too.
I remember when I first went off to college. Although I was only an hour and a half down the road, I cried every time I pulled out of the driveway to go back to school. Everytime. For the first year. A whole year.
Now, the crying seems to have subsided. I pull out of the driveway, of a completely different house no less, but I blow a kiss, smile real big and whisper to myself, "Man, I can't wait to come back home."
I think the main reason the tears have dried up over time is not because I'm older and more mature and wise in my years. I think it's because, everywhere I go, my family goes with me.
I take them with me.
They are in my heart.
Everyone I meet knows that my dad is the strongest (and wisest) man in the world. They know my mom's smile can light up a room and that she could coach the Mississippi State football team to a championship victory is they'd let her. They know that my sister is my best friend and that her voice puts even the most top-selling artists to shame in my book. They know that my brother-in-law is a coon-ass from 'Nawlins who uses the gift God has given him to lead everyone around him in glorifying the Father through song.
And they know, boy do they know, that my nephew rules my world.
I think I've just now figured out why I love The Wizard of Oz so much. It's such a representation of how home is where we are, not where we are.
To my favorite character,
"There's no place like home."