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Home is where you are welcome

When I was a sophomore in high school, I learned the truth from Thomas Wolfe’s book, “You Can’t Go Home Again” when I realized I couldn’t go back to the life I’d had the year before.

The summer after my freshman year of high school my family moved from Maryland to Ohio. I’d left behind a new school, lots of friends and years of memories. I remember going back to visit and realizing most of my friends had moved on and nothing was the same.

So when I decided to visit Las Vegas and Boulder City last week, I was nervous the same thing was going to happen.

It was my first time back since my husband and I left in June to move to Cody, Wyoming. I’d only been gone a couple of months, but would it be too long?

I’d been there about half the time I’d lived in Maryland, but I had grown up a lot during those years.

My husband and I went from being almost newlyweds to being married for almost a decade. He finished school. I built a career. We dealt with infertility and survived a pandemic.

But even with all of that, would Las Vegas and Boulder City still feel like home?

I had all that playing through my head as I was making the drive from Wyoming. I was coming to town for the 2022 Nevada Press convention. It coincided with the Würst Festival, and I knew I’d have to come to Boulder City for it.

I was excited about the weekend, but I’m not going to lie. I was nervous. Would I feel like an outsider? Or like I was coming home? I didn’t want to feel like I did as a 16-year-old when I went back to Maryland.

I swallowed all those feelings on the drive, and I’m glad I did because from the moment I drove into Clark County, I was home. My friend who I was staying with took me out to dinner when I arrived, and we picked up right where we left off. It was honestly like I hadn’t left, and that didn’t change when I went to Boulder City and the Würst fest.

The brats were as good as ever, and the people made it even more fun.

From getting to see Mike and Morgan Pacini and holding their baby girl, Gianna, to going to My 4 Sons and Angee Collins giving me the Yuengling beer she had picked up for me during a road trip, I was home. I also enjoyed hanging out with my dear friend and former boss, Hali Bernstein Saylor, as well as catching up with people in City Hall.

And that’s when it hit me. Home isn’t a place. It’s relationships.

No matter where I am physically, I am at home when I’m around people who are important to me. I’m at home in Cody, Wyoming, when I’m with my husband, my in-laws, our niece, our dogs and our friends.

I’m also at home in Ohio, Michigan, Virginia, Kentucky, North Dakota and England with all my family and friends as well as any other place where those I love are. I’m even at home in Maryland now because I still have friends there who are very special to me.

So I’m glad to say that for me Thomas Wolfe was ultimately wrong and I can go home again. Why? Because home isn’t a place. It’s the relationships I’ve taken with me.

Celia Shortt Goodyear worked as the general assignment reporter at the Boulder City Review for 5 ½ years. Currently, she is a freelance writer living in Cody, Wyoming, with her husband and their two dogs.

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