As I was driving up the pass, I had the biggest shit grin on my face. The windows were down, Eric Church was blasting, and I was belting my heart out as I drove west, destination Aspen.
I was uninhibited and having the best. dang. time. jamming solo in my rental Toyota 4Runner (by far the biggest car I have ever attempted to drive). The sky was a piercing blue, there wasn't a cloud in sight, and the Rocky Mountains - covered in trees sporting the most vibrant shades of green, yellow, and orange you can imagine - were all that you could see for miles.
I stopped at the Continental Divide to snap a pic (total tourist, and proud) and then quickly hopped back in my monster truck to make the descent toward A-town. If you haven't made this drive before, hitting the CD is the last big landmark before Aspen. Once you've passed it, you're on the home stretch.
All of the sudden, it hit me. Butterflies. All up in my stomach. We're talking first date, Christmas morning, I'm-about-to-do-something-super-fucking-cool-but-extremely-dangerous-and-potentially-life-threatening kind of butterflies - but also different.
These kind of butterflies were unique. Obviously, I was excited. There was also the elevation, which always messes with me at least a little. But neither of those were the reason for the party going on in my gut. This particular feeling is the one I only get when I'm heading home after I've been away for a good long while.
I've always thought of home as a singular noun; the place where you spent the better part of your childhood, and/or where your mom and pops have planted their roots. Although important, it was something I saw as fairly one-dimensional. That one place you can let your guard down, you can look like a total scrub all day every day - and although you might get endless shit for it - you know they will love you always, and where you go to retreat from the craziness, clutter, and chaos of life.
And yes, home is absolutely all of those things, but it can also be so much more.
The older I get, the more of the world I explore, the more I realize that home is extremely multi-dimensional and so very special. It's a feeling comprised of carefully collected memories, stories, lessons learned, love, loss, and everything in between. It's a state of mind. It's a place where you can simultaneously feel grounded and adventurous. It's butterflies in your belly, the warm fuzzies, and a big sigh of relief. It's knit together with people - and not exclusively the people you came into this world already connected to. People you have fatefully crossed paths with and hand-picked to be in your life. The ones who inspire you, humble you, challenge you and listen to you. Above all, these humans love you unconditionally and extraordinarily.
It doesn't have to be where you grow up, but it can be. And home is definitely not limited to one place - it can be many. After 24 years on this earth, I am lucky enough to consider two places home - Minneapolis and Aspen - and I hope to have many more places that fall into this category in my lifetime.
Through time and space, home is a beautiful, perfect mix of a feelings/places/state of minds that no matter how far you wander, no matter how many people and places you fall in love with, you keep coming back to time and time again.