“Are you glad to be back home, in Amarillo?”

This question lingered in the air and followed each “how are you” over the long weekend I spent in Texas. I couldn’t help but give a small smile and say, “well, I missed my family!” Answering without answering.

I missed my family so much. I miss my brother’s goofy laugh (you decide which one) and I miss drinking coffee with my mom in the morning. I miss my dad making breakfast and I miss my aunts being.. well them. I missed everyone and every day that I wake up in Florida – what I wouldn’t give to bring them all here.

The only thing that will ever keep me going back to Amarillo is my family. The warm embrace of having a safe space in this unforgiving city is comforting. The anxiety and looking over my shoulder stops when I enter the arms of my parents, brothers, aunts, and everyone else. My family is my home, not the city.

But, was I glad to be back in Amarillo?

We were leaving my brother’s house to go home and passed this one singular street. This street is where I spent many nights crying, screaming, and begging for mercy. This street is where my ex-fiance locked me out of his house and forced me to sleep in the car on a frigid winter night. This street is where his wench of a mother pushed me out of the way just to be spiteful because that’s the only emotion she feels. This street is where I lost my identity, my confidence was shattered, and where I found enough strength to say goodbye and gave a fake, cheap CZ ring back.

I was not glad to be back in Amarillo, but I didn’t know it until I got there. I had spent the coming weeks overwhelmed with excitement about going back home. I couldn’t wait to show Lloyd all the places I remember growing up, sharing memories, and showing him the scenery.

What was once a city where my heart and hometown lied, now lives desolate memories that I can’t shake. The memories and the feelings are so raw still that I can’t even drive around without having the “we got into a real big fight there once” memory pass through my mind. I felt like I was constantly looking over my shoulder for a trollish looking woman who was supposed to be my mother-in-law. At any moment I could’ve turned a corner and been face-to-face with the boy that sent me into my worst downward spiral.

Before I moved to Florida I wrote a letter saying goodbye to Amarillo and it was somewhat heartfelt. Reading it now, I was looking at life through rose-colored glasses, probably just happy to be leaving and starting over. I was nostalgic for this place that I had romanticized in my head. Now that I have a new place to call hime, this desert town is nothing more than a knot in my stomach.

My true home is with the people who love me for who I am. They are unconditional in their affection for me. Whether these people live in Texas, Florida, or Kalamazoo – they are home.