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My Mom and I were talking this morning after breakfast about me possibly moving. That is the next step now that I have my education, a good job, and a new car, but home is something I’ve learned not to take for granted. I know for a fact that I would never move from where I live now.

I’ve always travelled. I remember going to different states when I was very young. My favorite places to go were the states in the Rocky Mountains. Something about mountains, caves, and endless acres of trees is majestic. Sometimes people from different countries think that America is all the same, but it’s not. Each state is like its own country. We might all speak the same language and use the same money, but we couldn’t be more different.

The older I got the more we travelled. I flew back and forth by myself on several occasions and when I was about 11 or 12 my family developed a love for the Caribbean. We also found out the Mexico makes the best vanilla and being the bakers that we are, much travelling was structured around being able to grab copious amounts of vanilla to transport back home. I am the first of my family to travel internationally and I must say that I enjoyed that trip the most because it taught me more about life in two weeks than I’ve learned in years.

I used to have a taste for wild adventure but that has grown faint with age. I was offered countless scholarships to study all over the US and I seriously considered it for a few months. What won out was the fact that I didn’t want to leave my family. Now, looking back, I realize that it was because I love home too much to leave.

Whenever I travel, I take time to immerse myself in the native culture, but no matter what I do, I miss home. For example, I have family in Iowa. For miles and miles the only things you see are rolling hills of corn and soybeans dotted with grain silos and wind turbines. I also have family in Maine where the beaches are made of rocks, the trees turn red every fall, and mountains of rock drop sharply into raging rivers. Virginia has caves and waterfalls, winding roads and muddy rivers. Louisiana has swamps, marshes, and plantations with tree lined driveways. Oregon is breathtaking, green and gorgeous. California has valleys and beaches, mountains and deserts.

But home is the smell of an afternoon thunderstorm, the cry of seagulls outside the window at work. Blue-green waves on a beach filled with seaweed. The singing of spiders on a summer day and the splash of an alligator swimming into a lake. Home is 5 lanes of traffic standing still, the bustle of a city filled with different cultures. Home is rap music blaring from an obnoxiously painted car, yells of “nigga please” outside the movie theater. Home is the flags of my university flying in the wind. Home is speaking in Spanglish, arguing about which Puerto Rican restaurant makes the best empanadas and corquettas. Home is a quiet road with cattle ranches on both sides, orange groves and old cemeteries.

Home is the one place I always want to return to. No matter how special and beautiful every other place is, it isn’t home. Europe, filled with history and streets that have been walked on for centuries doesn’t feel the same. The streets are haunting and reflective, but not warm. And water comes in expensive and tiny bottles.

I told my Mom this morning with absolute certainty that I will move from this house one day, but I will never leave home.