Often I hear the expression: “Home is where the heart is”. Although a true statement, I believe a piece of your heart may always be where home once was rather than where it currently is. For me, that place is a small little town in Michigan called Dimondale. This is the place where I was born and raised and it wasn’t until 2006 when Colorado first stole my heart. I fell in love, not with a man, but with the mountains, fresh air and the brilliant sunshine. In July of 2006, I was out visiting a friend who had recently relocated to Colorado Springs. After my trip, it took only two short months before I packed my bags once again and fled back to the Rocky Mountains, this time for good. Later, I recall what a fearless badass I was and at that particular time in my life, “adventure” was my middle name. I was beyond thrilled to begin a life 1,300 miles away from my home base and was open and ready for all the experiences that came along with beginning something new.
However, there will always be Dimondale. There will always be a part of myself that was left behind as my small Pontiac Sunfire sped fast towards the west that foggy morning in September. Even now, as I sit on an airplane headed back to Colorado, I know this statement will always be true. You see, not only did I leave a part of my heart in Michigan, I also left behind incredible family and friends and a million other irreplaceable childhood memories. Although a handful of these people are also beginning to pack up and move out of state, most of my family still resides in Michigan. With pieces of my heart now scattered all over the country as the ones I love move and relocate, I have come to realize a thing or two about what family really means to me and this is what I know about family.
I believe there are three kinds of family. First, is the family you are born into. Genetics and medical science states this is your family because you share precious strands of DNA. Then, there is the family you are adopted into. You may not share the same eye color or personality traits; however, they become family because they choose you to be a part of theirs. Thirdly, (and in my case most importantly) there is the family you choose; the people you meet along the way. This family may not share your genes or your last name, but you share a bond with them that often cannot be described with words. These people typically play a significant role in helping shape the type of person you become.
For me, I am blessed with the most incredible family, whom I mostly left behind in Michigan. So, for the ones I met along the way, the people I don’t share DNA with, there are those people. Those people are the people I’ve known for years, or perhaps the people I haven’t even known a whole year yet. The people I work, play with, or live next door to. Those people are with whom I share some of my most celebrated moments, like completion of The Denver Marathon, or a job offer I would be crazy to turn down, or celebrating the decision to apply to Graduate School, or successfully surviving my first ever triathlon.
Those people are the childhood friends I first met in 1st and 4th grades. With these people, I have shared some of my most extreme ups and downs with and no matter what they always seem to have my back.
Those people I also grew up next door to. Our families spent many holidays and Sunday afternoons together, and in the meantime us kids spent quiet Saturday evenings under the stars in sleeping bags talking about the possibilities our futures would bring.
They are also those people that upon my arrival to Colorado in 2006, quickly scooped me up under their wing and did this not because they are originally from Michigan and have known my family for years, but rather just because they could. They have always been there for me, including the time my sister was in the hospital and my friend drove all the way down from Denver to The Springs insisting I go home and rest after being at the hospital for a solid 48 hours. “I will take it from here.” she said.
Those people are who I spend my weekdays working side by side at the most challenging, but most rewarding job I have ever had, and then just because, I also spend my Saturday and Sundays with those people… just for fun.
Those people pick up the phone no matter the time of day or night, even at 1am when my broken heart is too heavy and overwhelming to manage on my own anymore.
Those people I may only see once every other Thursday or so for long discussions of life and love, but it is as if I have always known them.
Those people I was stuck at an airport with for more than 30 hours before the snowstorm let up and allowed us to be rescued. Prior to being rescued, however, we vowed to make the most of our airport fiasco and created such fond (and laughable) memories that I would not trade for anything.
Those people encourage me, challenge me, forgive me, support me, laugh with me (sometimes even at me) cry and scream with me, play, dance and celebrate with me. They run with me, climb 14er’s with me, practice yoga next to me, or even complete Yoga Teacher Training with me. Those people are the ones I met along the way.
Now it is time for me to fly away from the glorious and green spring time in Michigan back to my adoptive family (including the 10 month old fur ball I call Ruby). As I do so, I am reminded that ten years ago, I never would have predicted I’d soon be spending my 9th summer in Colorado. For almost a decade I have called this place home. While pieces of my heart still remain in Dimondale, I am continuously reminded that life is so unpredictable, but in all its unpredictability there is one thing I know will never change: support and love from my family, the family I was born into and the family I continue to share my time and memories with. I also know this family will only continue to grow.
So, as I sit here now reading this blog for the first time since writing it four weeks ago, I realize the purpose of this post is to always remember that the most precious things in this life are the people with which you choose to share the journey. Like I have said before; relationships matter, and the relationships with these people are what I am most grateful for in this life.