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© 2020 Blaine Hoppenrath
  • Blaine Hoppenrath

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Updated: Feb 3


I have spent more life than not in the greater Kansas City Area. I've spent even more of my life in the Midwest in general. I am a Midwesterner at heart. But as I have learned more about myself I have fallen in love with American West. The mountains and canyons, rivers and oceans captured my heart. With stints in Denver and Flagstaff, and now living in Albuquerque, my soul feels complete when I can wake up and look out at the mountains. No matter how stressful the day, the sunrise over the mountains is simply the best.

After spending a majority of their lives in the Midwest, my parents are leaving to desert Southwest for retirement, Phoenix to be exact. Which means the trip to Kansas City for Thanksgiving this past weekend was, effectively, the last time in the foreseeable future that I will be returning "home."

Being back over the weekend I was trying to think about the places that shaped me. The places where I would spend my free time outside of school, and even my schools themselves. And quite frankly, my city grew up just like I did. My high school has grown (so big that it had to divided into two), and with a new stadium at the football field, the school just didn't feel the same as it once had. Which in all honestly, its not like I LOVED high school, so no love loss there.

Besides my home on Richfield Road that I grew up in, the one defining place in my past no longer exists. Clayview Country Club. And, okay its still technically a place, but the pool that I learned how to swim in, the pool that lead me to swim all year round, and the pool that I had my first job at is now a movie theatre and a parking lot. Granted, the club has been closed for years, but this last trip made it feel so much more real.

It hit me that the town that I knew a decade ago, isn't the same town. It doesn't recognize me and I don't recognize it. My heart grew over the last decade and it knows that my home is where the land is full of endless and landscapes and endless adventure. And that just isn't the Midwest.

I was beyond blessed to see my Clayview family on Black Friday. Made up of a half dozen families who grilled burgers every Sunday night in summer at the club, this family is who I spent my childhood with. The kids in the clan swam summer league year after year, played tennis (or at least tried to) after swim practice was over, and every summer our lives would revolve around that pool. We grew up eating cookie dough at the snack bar and the last kids out of the pool at night. It was bittersweet to see the group, knowing that it could potentially be a very long time before I saw them again. But the important part was seeing them.

On Saturday, Mom and I drove to the Plaza, back through the crossroads and stopped at Quay for an iced vanilla latte. I felt like I was saying goodbye to a city that I've lived in my whole life, but has grown so much that I hardly knew it at all.

My trip left me with an empty feeling, if this doesn't seem like home, then where is it? I do feel a slightest bit of nostalgia when I go back, but I also feel that when I am in Lincoln, Minneapolis, Denver or Flagstaff. They all have a piece of my heart, pieces that I can't seem to get back.

I love my semi-nomadic life. I love that I have been able to see the country and meet new people, and feel the most like myself when I am in the mountains. Sometimes I wish that I knew what my home was or supposed to be.

For now, Albuquerque is the most I have felt at home in a long time. Partly because the adventures are endless, and as I work my way visiting the state I can always return to "my mountains" and feel like all is right in the world. But mostly because the few friends that I have meet are pretty incredible. They all have the most generous hearts and have welcomed an outsider into their group. Its to the point that I have a hard time picturing myself anywhere else. So for now, and hopefully a long time to come home in here, in the ABQ. But really only life will be able to tell me where my heart belongs.

I came across a new artist lately, Ira Wolf, and her song Pictures on a Wall sums up a lot of feelings that I have about home. The lyrics are below, but I recommend listing to the song as well.

I've climbed the mountains in Montana

Danced in the lights of New Orleans

Portland ran away with me

And San Francisco stayed with me

Nashville made its way in between

Fell in love in Minnesota

Fell apart south of Salt Lake

Colorado calls to me

And Washington will always be begging for a piece of me to stay

Maybe some things never change

But I want to know how it feels to hang pictures on a wall

Sleep in the same bed at night

I want reasons to stay I want someone to take up my time

And miss me when I go

I swam the beaches on the West Coast

Climbed the trees of Carolina

I have felt the city streets of Boston underneath my feet

Heard the sound of subways down the line

Walked the lake sides of Wisconsin

Bathed in springs of Idaho

I could use a day or two

Or even just an afternoon

To get myself lost in Chicago

Maybe I'm homesick for it all

But I want to know how it feels to hang pictures on a wall

Sleep in the same bed at night

I want reasons to stay I want someone to take up my time

And miss me when I go

I want a home

Cause I have traveled cross this country wide

And I feel there must be something more to find

I miss those mountains in Montana

I have wandered long enough

To know how good a good thing was

I feel it more the further that I get

So the wheels are pointed west

'Til I know how it feels to hang pictures on a wall

Sleep in the same bed at night

I want reasons to stay

I want someone to take up my time

And miss me when I go

I'll find reasons to stay

And someone to take up my time

And I'm not gonna go

When I get home I'm going home


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