There’s no place like home

Included in Saturday’s Daily Globe is a special section which features a variety of stories about a variety of things in our coverage area. The theme we used this year is “Hometown Proud, Familiar Faces.”

Interviewing so many people who made a point to end up in the area they grew up really got me thinking about where I came from, and also where my kids say they came from.

I grew up in Forest Lake, which was a rural area back then. Now it’s a suburb of the Twin Cities and being there makes me a bit twitchy. It certainly doesn’t feel like home. It mostly just feels crowded. The fields where I used to help bale hay are now housing developments that I just don’t understand — they are so close together and look exactly alike.

My husband and I wanted to move back to our home state of Minnesota after 10 years of Navy life, we just didn’t like what Forest Lake had become. We wanted space.

Both of us were rural-born kids, used to having fields and woods to wander through, and we thought our kids deserved the same. In fact, I had to laugh last week when co-worker Julie Buntjer referred to her newsroom co-workers as “citified.” I lived on a farm with cows, chickens, horses, geese, gardens and a goat named Corky. Not exactly citified, in my book. I feel like I spent half of my youth watering animals and plants or stacking firewood for our woodstove. Every now and then my three brothers helped a little (they are so going to beat me up for that comment).

We lived in several cities while my husband Eric was in the Navy. My three kids were born in three different states — a direct re-sult of being a military family. When it came time to leave that life behind, we stumbled upon a funny little town we grew to love.

I left Forest Lake when I was 18 years old. We moved to this area a little over 16 years ago. To me, home is Avoca.

My daughter Maggie was a couple weeks away from turning 10 when we moved there, but if you ask her where she’s from she says, “Avoca.” My boys were 2- and 4-years-old when we moved there, and also claim Avoca as their hometown.

We live in town, but because we’re on an outside road we have a field beyond our backyard. We have a couple of acres with apple trees, a garden, horseshoe pits, a rhubarb patch and a big swing set. We have a fire pit and have spent many evenings sitting around a bonfire watching the kids play outside. Our yard has served as partygrounds for three graduations and many neighborhood get-togethers.

In September, we’ll have our biggest challenge yet. Eric and I will be hosting our daughter’s wedding in the backyard. She called home this fall and said she and Luke had decided to get married in 2012.

“In Rochester?” I asked, since she has lived there for several years and it seemed like a legitimate question.

“No, at home in Avoca,” she replied.

“At the church or the community center?” I asked.

“No, Mom, I want to get married at home,” she said. “In the backyard.”

Egads. Deep breath. I was sitting at a picnic table by the fire pit at the time she called, and I looked around the yard. Deep breath. Another deep breath. Egads again. OK. We can do this… I think.

We’re getting things worked out and I’m not in “all out panic” mode any longer, but still tend to hyperventilate every now and then when thinking about the details.

A few weeks ago, I asked her why she had chosen to have her wedding in our yard. She summed it up rather well.

“It’s home.”

I’m glad she feels that way. Eric and I have waged war with our house, an old schoolhouse moved into Avoca in 1955, and will probably never be done fixing things. There’s always something else needing changing or updating or painting. I need new linoleum in the kitchen and new carpet in both the living room and dining room. Eric wants to move the laundry room up into the seldom-used computer room. After our kids all moved out, we went to work and are still in the process of redoing the upstairs playroom and bedrooms. It will all get done eventually. We will continue to plug away at it. After all, it’s home.

Winston Churchill said something a long time ago that still holds true to this day. I’m not sure if he meant an actual building, or if he was talking about an area, a neighborhood, or a town.

“We shape our dwellings, and afterward our dwellings shape us,” he said.

Yep. Still true.

So, enough of these deep thoughts for me. As I’m writing this, it’s the end of the day and I’m going home.