After two months spent living out of suitcases, we're so very, very happy to be home!
I can't help but contrast this homecoming to our initial arrival in Virginia, almost a year ago to date. Tropical, sticky summer heat, no friends, long days alone where we struggled to find our way around and anxiety attacks about the new school.
This year our homecoming includes sleepovers, kids who've missed mine, running through the neighborhood in the dark, texts and plans to meet girlfriends, book group and writers' group and the ability to find the grocery store without taking ANY wrong turns.
And yet, when I stop to think about it, we were equally at home in France.
I still have friends who date back to the days when I lived there. The language returned easily and soon my children were running to the corner boulangerie and ordering our morning baguette without me. We walked the neighborhoods of Paris and decided that, yes, this could feel like home too.
Without a doubt, Portland feels like home, even though we're not living there.
Friendships picked up as though the gap in time was a week instead of a year. Traditions carried on seamlessly and for almost a month we slipped back into our former Oregon lives.
We talked about it on the east bound plane, carrying us from one home to another.
"Portland will always be home, right?" asked my daughter.
"Yes, of course," I told her.
"But it also feels like home is in McLean."
Home, we decided, isn't necessarily a fixed place. Instead it's a state of mind, a place where there are people you love, community and familiarity.
For the moment, home is wherever our family is together, but soon (sooner than I want to think about) home might mean a college dorm room or a foreign city where my children know no one at all.
When that time comes, I'm hoping our nontraditional definition will give my kids the tools to magically transform unfamiliar settings into places that take on all the trappings of home.
Since clearly I'm on the subject, I hope each one of you had a magical summer and are equally happy to be home, wherever and however you define it.