Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Home for the Holiday

Yep, I'm blogging from my parents' house and will be for the next few days.

After tackling the big issues, like Miss USA not being fired, I wanted to do something a little lighter. (Any lighter and I'd be an anorexic albino, but I digress.) I'm going to talk a bit about my hometown of Janesville, Iowa.

Janesville is a small town in northeast Iowa near larger communities like Cedar Falls, Waterloo, and Waverly. If Norman Rockwell ever needed a backdrop for a painting, Janesville could certainly fit the bill. In Janesville, kids could play outside and not worry about being shot at in a drive-by or being abducted. We look out for each other. We're not just neighbors; we're friends in ways that transcend mere geographic location.

Nothing brought this point home more than watching how the people of Janesville rallied behind my parents over the past couple of years. When my mom fought breast cancer, the people were there cheering her on and offering to do whatever needed to be done to make my mom's recovery even an iota more comfortable. When my dad went into the hospital after a nasty fall, the people cheered him on and shared in our amazement as he made a more rapid recovery than expected. In a world where people are as likely to lie to your face as they are to spit on you (and in some cases, they'll do both), it's nice to know that there are still people out there who really care about people and don't do it as a means to get something out of it.

Needless to say, this has had an impact on my way of life in ways I have yet to fully understand, but one that I fully appreciate. So much of what I am is derived from my family and my hometown. Optimistic, honest, humble, fair, intelligent, caring...all traits that I drew from growing up in Janesville. No matter where I travel, no matter how many years I live in Des Moines, Janesville is home.

Which brings us to what exactly home is. To me, home is both a physical structure and a mental state. You need the former for the physical and emotional needs everybody has. But even a physical structure needs something more, an emotional investment, no matter how small. A hotel room at the finest hotel in the world can't provide it, but an apartment, house, or even a trailer home can. And in some cases, even an apartment, house, or trailer home can't provide it. Home is a state of mind and heart, even moreso than it is a physical structure. In short, it's like a love affair, but instead of being with a person, it's with an idea and a place all in one.

And for a few days in December, just as I do every time I come back, I will be rekindling my love affair with my home, Janesville.

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