Returning Home

city skyline from airplane view

Tonight I am returning home. I am flying over the roads and acreage farms and miniature houses that span the distance between Iowa and Illinois. From the window of this tiny plane, I can see the interstate stretching out like a vein, glowing an orange-gold in the darkness. I trace its pattern with my finger against the cold glass, following blinking store signs and headlights weaving through the snow.

From here, the world seems so tranquil. The movements calculated, rhythmic. From here, I am separated from fear, separated from the rush and the indecision and the confusion and conundrum of everyday existence. From here, I have only one thing on my mind. I am returning home.

I can see from the pilot’s window a collection of lights in the distance. I wonder if it’s Chicago, in all its glory, welcoming me back. I have always considered this city my home, even when I left for college and intertwined myself with a new life, a new dwelling place, a new sense of belonging.

No matter the time or distance, the city will always carry my beating heart. No matter how long it’s been, the city will always feel like returning home.

It will always give me goosebumps, especially now, as the plane begins to shift downward and the skyscrapers slip into view.

Home reminds me of many things. It is the Jewel grocery store on 95th where I sipped alcohol in the back of a car and talked about dreams. It is the playground down the street where I first contemplated what it meant to really fall in love. It is the high school where I dressed up for dances, the softball field where I scuffed my cleats in the dirt pitch after pitch. It’s the embrace of my parents, the laughter from my friends. Home is so many things. And always will be, no matter the time or space or distance.

Right now it is welcoming me back in its lights and brilliance, almost as if I never left.

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Marisa Donnelly, M.Ed., is a writer/editor, credentialed teacher, proud bonus mama, and CEO of Be A Light Collective, a coaching and content creation business and digital marketplace. She is the Director of Donnelly’s Daily Apple, a flexible learning/tutoring and educational resource platform, and the lead voice for Momish Moments and Step by Step Parents, verticals dedicated to sharing and advocating for non-traditional parenting journeys. Marisa currently resides in San Diego, California, with her fiancé, kiddo, and their two rambunctious Pitbulls. ❤️