When I am beyond the grasp of human touch, but need to feel warmth around me, I long for the embrace of a familiar place. A member of a large family, my parents moved around enough that I never gained that sense of one particular place being home. In the course of my lifetime, I have done the same – moving restlessly from place to place. I’ve often wondered what it is my parents were searching for, and lately have gone inward, asking myself that same question.

The stakes are higher now, because I have two under my wing, and whatever I decide, they too will ponder 20 years from now. So, I find myself looking deeply into this sense of a familiar place as home. Interestingly enough, that place came to me as I grew into adulthood, and I found myself returning there when I needed grounding.

We moved there when I was five-years-old. I remember sitting up front in the U-Haul with my dad, clutching my teddy bear as we drove away from the only place I’d known as home. We were leaving the city of Spokane, for a small lake, nestled against the Rockies, in Montana. When we arrived and pulled into our driveway, which pitched downward towards the low-flat ranch house sitting next to the lake, a small, brown, wild rabbit with a puffy white tail ran into the bushes. I clambered out of the truck after it, and soon my five brothers and I were lost in the nearby woods of Ponderosa and Pine, walking the pebbled beach, and staring at the rugged Swan Range across the water from us. That night, my little brother and I, who shared a room, peered out the open window into the inky, black darkness, awed by the quiet punctuated only by the loud chirping of crickets.

For city kids, this was like falling down the rabbit hole, and thus began my rich memories of Lake Blaine, Montana – a space that, in reality, only captured a couple years of my life, but in my mind permeates and dominates any other childhood memories. How can life  in the city compare to having pet rabbits and ducks, catching snakes, frogs, ice skating on a frozen lake, fishing and running wild through the woods with five brothers? Or slipping through the fence at school to harvest wheat granules which we arranged in the groove in our wooden desks meant for holding pencils?

I felt cheated when we drove away from our little house on the lake, headed west to the big city of Tacoma, Washington. My parents often point out that my life changed for the better at that point. They say that I learned valuable life skills, like how to adapt, overcome, and deal with challenges that I wouldn’t have if we stayed. My dad said to me recently, “I wonder what would have become of you if we’d stayed out at that place on the lake?” And, I wonder too. Because, living in the city changed me. By the time I graduated college, the world was not big enough for me and I couldn’t do enough, see enough, or be enough as fast as I wanted.

Which I did – living life to the fullest; sometimes with grace, sometimes without, but always with nothing but heart. And, now, twenty some years later, all the life I squeezed into that brief span of time has caught up to me like a massive breaking wave. I find myself struggling to get out from underneath it, to right myself again. And in these churning waters, I know that there is a place of calm, a place I can call home – I just need to find it – for myself, and for my children.

I eye every prospective property online with my daughter in mind, who at seven is the spitting image of me in every respect. My parents tell me that I need to get them out – need to expose them to more of the world. But, I remember those blissful, childhood days by the lake and it gives me pause. I want to give them that gift of place – a place that will forever anchor them in this frenetic world. A place that 20 years from now, they can go to simply reminisce, feeling the warmth of place wrapping itself around them.