I was supposed to leave this place.
Running away from Indiana was part of my plan from as far back as I can remember.
This place. This city. This state. All of it wasn’t enough for me. I needed bigger cities and wilder adventures.
In middle school, I remember talking about leaving. I wrote about leaving. I dreamed about leaving.
In high school, I traveled with our newspaper staff to Washington, D.C. for a national conference and I felt so alive riding the subway around the city, walking the streets, and disappearing in the crowds of people. I vibrated with excitement at the big city life that was going to be mine in only a few short years.
Even now I still get anxious when I feel stuck or too comfortable. I dream of traveling, of seeing places I read about in books, of visiting cities I learn about in movies. But somewhere along the way, there was a shift. I still get intense cases of wanderlust every few months and we’re finally able to act on those urges, taking our girls and exploring our world. But the change, the shift, has been subtle and unexpected.
Where once there was a need to leave and never come back, there is now a longing to go and then a longing to come home. Back to Indiana, to Indianapolis, with its hustle and bustle, to my hometown with its narrow roads and cornfields. Leaving was always part of the plan, but now coming back feels just as sweet. It feels right to go and explore other places, other cities, other ways of life, but it also feels right to return here. I feel Indiana in my bones when I leave, feel her call while I’m gone, and feel her embrace when I finally make the trek back.
I never expected to want this place. I didn’t anticipate loving Indiana, its people, its cities, its rhythms. I guess I needed to leave, experience the other places I dreamed about to realize how much Indiana was home.
I will always wander–it’s in my bones–but I will always come back here too. Indiana is my home.