The word alone invokes a lot of emotions. For many we chase that feeling where ever we go hoping to find that familiar sense of security, comfort and love we felt in that one place our minds go to whenever we think of home. We try to emulate it, recreate it or do just about anything to take us back to those old familiar grounds. Memories of old hold dear places in our hearts.
I have moved many times but not all those places have felt like home. I grew up in the Bronx, New York. My first move was to Alaska when I was 21 years old, then Kentucky, Florida and now Maryland. I have been chasing that “home” feeling ever since I left NY in 1993. I never found it in Alaska nor Kentucky. I bounced around a bit in Florida all the while chasing that feeling. Then it happened. I married my loving husband and my family left New York to move to Florida. For the first time since 1993 my parents, grandmother, aunt, sisters, brothers, nieces, nephew all lived within 5 miles of each other.
Then a few years later an opportunity became available in Maryland, of all places. I couldn’t believe it at first. In fact, the more I fought it and questioned it the clearer it was we belonged in Maryland. It was clear to us, God was orchestrating this move. Even doors we pushed back opened. We finally just throw up our hands and surrender to His will. Just when Florida was beginning to provide me with all the comfort I longed for we had to leave. We felt it was God’s will for us.
Maryland eventually became home. After all my husband and kids were with me. Just like those wise proverbs that say “home is where your heart is”, “home is where your family is”, and “home is where your heart lies”, etc.… It was true. Eventually we found ourselves loving Maryland. It has for all intents and purposes become home.
A few days ago while shopping for a box of cards I found a set with a Maryland crab holding a pink ribbon, the symbol for breast cancer. Originally I did not like it and then I had a thought… those are perfect cards for anyone who dealt with me on my crabby days. Let’s be honest I was a bonafide crab at times.
Then when writing on my cards it took a totally different meaning…. Marylanders love their crabs. Then I had an epiphany. I was not longing for that home feeling invoked by the sound of the train going by my window, the church bells on Sunday morning, traffic buzzing by, horns honking, music blaring, kids playing kickball, the cuchifrito corner bakery that had the best Cuban bread, the local bodega, the Valencia bakery and the smell of Spanish food in the kitchen from my memories in New York. I was also not longer for the warm sun, sunshine and the comfort of family in Florida. Home was something new and I had arrived.
Maryland is a place I love because my family, my friends and my church has made it home but cancer solidified me as a Marylander. Just like C.S. Lewis said hardships prepare us for our destiny. In my case it’s in Maryland, where the Maryland flag is as popular as the Puerto Rican flag is in Puerto Rico.
Now, if only I wasn’t allergic to shellfish so I could enjoy those crabs. God has a sense of humor. He placed me exactly where I needed to be so I could become the best version of me, a Marylander. I don’t think my family will ever follow me here but they make enough visits to make my heart happy.