Childhood · Nostalgia · Stories

Week 12: Finding Home | Everyday Nostalgia


My life tends to be a series of the same things: working, cooking, cleaning, hanging out with my daughter, blogging. You know—the usual “eat, sleep, repeat” routine. A friend of mine always jokes that maybe one day, when asked what I’m up to, I’ll finally say something other than, “The usual.” While I do find (or am learning to find) comfort in my everyday routine, it’s always nice to have something to look forward to.

And this week, I did have something wonderful to look forward to: I was going on vacation. And that vacation involved going back to the place I still call home—Toledo, Ohio.

I find it kind of funny that I still call Toledo home. Growing up, we moved frequently and Toledo was the fourth city that I lived in, and I only lived there for 4 years, to boot. But it’s the place I go when I say I’m going back home. One might think that since I’ve lived in Colorado for almost 15 years now that I’d bestow that term to this beautiful, sun-filled state, but I really don’t. I’ve always felt a little out of place here, never escaping the term “transplant.”

As my upcoming trip got closer, the more and more I thought about the concept of home. Why was it that out of all the places I’ve lived, Toledo feels the most like home? In an effort to help fuel my thoughts on the subject, I reached out to my friends via Facebook and asked a simple question:

“When you think of the word ‘home,’ what’s the first thing that comes to mind?”

I loved watching the answers start rolling in. They ranged from states and pets and familiar foods to smells and feelings and people. Knowing everything I’ve learned about nostalgia, I wasn’t surprised to see that so many of my friends seemed to have specific memories evoked by this question: the smell of their father’s cigars, the taste of pineapple-upside-down-cake, the scent of laundry dried outside on a clothesline, the sound of their mother’s voice. Although these memories and feelings and thoughts weren’t my own, I felt a connection with them.


But when I stepped back and looked at all the answers as a whole, I noticed a common theme—the majority of them involved the family. And all at once, I knew why Toledo was synonymous with the word home for me.

Zoey and I weren’t visiting Toledo for the lovely weather (because let’s face it: overcast seems to be the perpetual forecast there), we were going there to see two of the most important people in my—and my daughter’s—life: my parents.

Despite not having a terribly deep connection with Toledo as a town, I have strong associations with it, and my parents remain at the core of those memories. When we moved there, I was entering my freshman year of high school, and to say I wasn’t terribly pleased with the fact another job transfer was taking me away from all my friends in Nashville would be a pretty big understatement. I ended up at an all-girls Catholic high school that filtered in students from various middle schools—which meant that groups of friends were already established, and I struggled to find a place where I felt like I belonged.

I eventually found an amazing core group of friends, but until that point, the place I truly felt relaxed and happy was at home with my parents. My brother was already in college, so it was just the three of us. We’re pretty simple people, never needing much to have a good time, and we settled into a routine that—at its most basic level—involved spending copious amounts of time with one another. I’ve always adored my folks, so to me, this was a perfectly fine scenario. Not many people wax poetic about the times the spent they hanging out with their mom and dad on Friday nights when they were 15, but I am one of them. I have wonderful, nostalgic memories of popping popcorn and curling up on the couch so we could all watch the X-Files together. My dad—with his perfectly loving and slight OCD tendencies—would attend to my mom and me, catering to our every need. He get us drinks or, if it was winter, make a fire or fill up hot water bottles to keep us warm. He had a hard time relaxing, so the line “just sit down” was one repeated frequently in our house. 

And when my dad was traveling, which was fairly often, it was just my mom and me. The time that we spent together forged a relationship that bound our hearts together at a level I didn’t think was possible to have between a parent and child (until I had my own daughter, of course). My mom and I aren’t just mother and daughter—we are friends, and the best of ones at that. 

I can give you a list of the reasons why I think Toledo is a great place to vacation, but they all really have nothing to do with Northwest Ohio. They have everything to do with the people there—my people. Those reasons have everything to do with the way that my heart feels when I’m surrounded with the love of my supportive, amazing parents, ones who do whatever it takes to make me happy. 

So later this week, when my parents take us to the airport and we board the plane to go back home—the Colorado one where Zoey and I live—I can guarantee that there will be plenty of tears shed, by all of us. But although Zoey and I will fly away, we won’t completely be leaving them.

Pieces of us will stay behind, both in the memories that were made and in the laughter, good conversation, and love that we all shared. And as someone who in a bit of a limbo state in her life, I will find comfort that home—as it seems to be with most of my friends— isn’t so much about the places that once held or currently hold us, it’s about the people that we get to call our own.

For me, home is what I feel when I see my dad’s outstretched hand waving to me at the airport. Home is the feeling of my mom’s welcoming arms wrapped around me. Home is the taste of a beloved childhood meal made with love (and lots and lots of cheese). Home is the the sound of our late-night conversations and the comfort found in the silence of just being able to be. Home is Zoey’s voice as she squeals, “Mommy!” after not seeing me for a few days. It is what I feel in her hugs, what I hear in her constant chatter that creates the soundtrack to our days, and what I see when I look at her sweet face.

Home is celebrating the past with people I love, and creating new and wonderful memories with them—today and every day.

I have a feeling that one day, I will probably end up in a place that finally feels like home. But until then, I will find home in the arms, the hands, the eyes, the faces, and the hearts of the people I love. When we are together, I will savor the moments we share, and when we part, I may be sad, but I will be excited for the next time we get to see each other again. And that is a very hopeful thing, knowing that I’ll always look forward to going home, wherever it may be.


Let us know: Where do you find “home”? What do you think of when you think of the word “home”?

Week 12 Suggested Viewing

More and more people worldwide are living in countries not considered their own. Writer Pico Iyer—who himself has three or four “origins”—meditates on the meaning of home, the joy of traveling and the serenity of standing still in his thought-provoking Ted Talk, Where is Home?

Just joining me on my journey? Catch up on the Everyday Nostalgia series here.


At the Nostalgia Diaries, our goal is to help you simplify, enhance, and engage your lives by focusing on the most important things: remembering, appreciating, believing, and becoming. It’s all about celebrating the past to create better days today.

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41 thoughts on “Week 12: Finding Home | Everyday Nostalgia

  1. You are stars…you are lights….I adore every word of this post…it reads like home….the written word, and spoken stories…songs, plays, movies…these are home….connections….these are home….I can’t articulate what I mean…but, you writing (and the place it comes from) touches me on a profound level….thank you! 🙂

  2. It’s beautiful to read about your relationship with your parents. This is what I’m thinking of everyday in raising my children. There may be some tense times in the future, but I want an ultimate deep relationship. Thanks for this lovely post.

    1. I was apprehensive about having children because I was so worried I wouldn’t be able to recreate the amazing relationship I with my parents. What if I wasn’t a good parent like that? Fortunately, I’ve learned that it really is all about love – giving, receiving, and sharing – and that I will be a good parent as long as I do all these things.

      1. Absolutely. I was worried because before children I survived on cereal and peanut butter sandwiches. I never felt like a “mom”. Lots of love and sharing our own gifts with them is the best that we can offer.

  3. I’ve lived in DC almost six years now but Buffalo will always be “home” because the rest of my family is there, I grew up there, I understand the people, and I love the seasons.

    1. I find what you said about understanding the people interesting – I think that’s where I find my own disconnect in feeling at home in Colorado sometimes. I love my friends and work family, but don’t feel like I connect in a way with people there otherwise. Feeling at home is a fascinating concept, I think!

  4. I loved the Sarah Dessen books as I was growing up. I read them every summer.

    I lived in the same house from 3rd grade through 10th grade and that was definitely “home”. But these days, I say I am going “home” anytime I am visiting my mom. Whether it is at her new place in VT or her place in CT, both of which were purchased recently, the feeling I get being with her will always be home.

  5. I can absolutely relate! We moved four times when I was a kid but I always think of my first home as “home.” So many precious memories made there.

  6. Wow! This hit me in the feels! I live in Washington State and have been here 17 years. It is still just a place I live.

    HOME is Florida – the land where I feel connected and grounded. Yrs, family is there but its feeling of peace there that I love.

    But, in my soul my home is Ireland and I have never been. But being a Scot-Irish descendant the Emerald Isle is my soul and will be there some day.

    This loving post reminds mod what Home and Family mean – thank you!

  7. I totally agree with your definition of home. I. too, have lived in several places, all over the country, some for longer periods of time than other, but only refer to one place as home; South Carolina. I have wondered before why that is and I think you hit the nail on the head…that is where my memories are, that is where I grew as a person, that is where my heart is. They say home is where the heart is, right? 🙂 Wonderful post, really enjoyed it.

  8. I love this post! It is difficult at times for me to say where “home” is. My family still lives in Lake Tahoe and I like going back and spending time there. I live in Phoenix and mostly consider this home, though I am still trying to find my way here. Home really is where my family is.

  9. I’ve lived in Arizona over half my life… Almost 23 years… But when I think of home i still think of my hometown on the central coast of California … When I drive home to see my parents and my little town comes into view I am filled with such peacefulness…

  10. Mine would definitely have to be Houghton Lake, Michigan! There is nothing like Northern Michigan in the summer and my family still lives there. My husband and I visited your home last year and took our boys to the Toledo Zoo. We loved it! Great post!

  11. Home, to me, is my husband, my dogs, my family, my best friends (I have like 7 haha). I then think of my bed, my fuzzy blankets, the smell of cinnamon apple candles, and yummy pumpkin muffins. I LOVE that quote by Sarah Dressin. So great!

  12. I love this. It just warmed my heart. Home is definitely wherever your people are. My three-year-old was just asking me about the difference between “house” and “home” the other day and I explained that a house might be four walls and a roof, but a home is anywhere that you are surrounded by love. Great post!

  13. You brought me right into your experience of home. It felt lovely. When I think of home, it definitely involves the house I grew up in. That house is now virtually empty, but I can see and feel every aspect of it even in my mind.

  14. “I will find home in the arms, the hands, the eyes, the faces, and the hearts of the people I love.”

    This resonates with me so much. I truly believe this is true. I had to leave behind my “home,” my social network, my family and friends, my career to move to rural TN with my husband as he starts this medical school journey.

    But he reminds me every day that home is wherever he is.

  15. Wow I really enjoyed your post on this topic especially your vivid memories. Love that Sarah Dessen quote… Thank you for pointing me in the direction of your site!

  16. Home is sometimes hard to pinpoint, but I feel it’s easy to recognize what *isn’t* home. I’d venture to say a good percentage of home is something that travels with us; we know we’ve stumbled upon something special when we unmistakably feel we’re leaving something behind there when we go to the place we physically call home.

    Colorado’s always in my heart, but my life happened here, from becoming a husband to becoming a father, starting to coach and starting to write. My life has taken twists and turns, but I can always find solace in places that feel right … that feel like home.

    Home is definitely about people. My soccer team made a four-hour drive this spring for a state playoff game against a higher-ranked team. It was arduous and difficult (the ride and the match!) but when we took a lead, and extended the lead, I realized that home felt near because of the players involved.

    Wonder if you have a Toledo Mudhens cap in your closet somewhere …

  17. At the moment, I think I would think of “home” as where I am most content and happy. I recently moved to college that is two hours away from my parents and my hometown. I love being with my parents, but I also love where I love now more than where I grew up. The funny thing is, I don’t know which place I feel most content and happy. Hopefully I figure it out soon. P.s. I loved this post 🙂

  18. ““When you think of the word ‘home,’ what’s the first thing that comes to mind?”” – I can relate to your limbo state! It’s not necessarily a “place” that I haven’t found.. it’s a state of being home within myself! I have found it recently! But, when I think of home, I think of the cools summers of Indiana! Laughing with my brothers and we make mud pies….cooking with my mom and listening to my dad play his trumpet! <3

  19. I haven’t visited Toledo…I’m not far though, I’m over in Cincinnati. Home for me is Portland, Oregon because most of my family lives there although I haven’t in like 15 years. It is always home for me though.

  20. For me, home is a feeling rather than a place. I can feel more at home in the middle of a crowd if I’m standing with the right person. Some family members feel like home, others do not.

    I’ve worked really hard on making the place I am currently living in feel like home, and I’ve done a wonderful job. It’s honestly my favourite place in the world. Whilst I know I won’t be here forever, I know I’ll look back and remember how content and safe I felt here, and that’s how home feels to me.

    Indya ||

  21. I think you have nailed it exactly. Home is not necessarily a specific place, but whom you are with. I once called Michigan home because it is where I grew up. And while I am definitely nostalgic for the autumns there, my home is now Las Vegas. It is where I am experiencing my daughter’s childhood and it where my heart is. ❤️

  22. Great, great, great post! I recently read an article written by a lady whose family had lost their home in the California fires recently. Her and her family are living with her sister and her family, and she said that it is super crowded. But, they are so happy, thankful, and feel more at home than they have in a while because they are having such a fun time being with family. I think that is what it’s all about.

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