Carbondale, Illinois is as close to having a ‘home’ as I’ve experienced thus far.
This is the town where I made my first snow-person, learned how to drive, cut class, and found my love for romping outdoors. Home is the place where I have the deepest memories, history, and connection.
I have friends here dating back to pre-school, and my mom lives here with my step-dad and a young Australian Shepherd. Would this still be home if my mom weren’t here? Yes, although I would probably have fewer visits. I mostly travel here for family Thanksgivings and Christmas holidays, but I still call southern Illinois “home”.
Coming here in the middle of winter is not ideal, but at least during this cold snap I have real plumbing and no propane-use worries. I drove around this morning visiting a few old friends and thought about what makes this place “home”. The physicality of the town has changed a lot over the years – roads re-routed, new street lights, businesses gone and new ones in their places, new buildings built.
It’s not the town itself that is ‘home’ to me, it’s the people I know, the community I left, the old friends still here. But it’s also the surrounding wilderness – the great Shawnee National Forest where I spent a lot of my youth camping and tromping around, Crab Orchard and Cedar Lakes for humid summer nights skinny dipping, Giant City State Park with it’s grand rock formations for clambering.