I recently traveled back home to visit my family and old friends. A quick five-day trip to celebrate a friend’s baby on the way, meet another friend’s new two-month old and spend quality time with my three siblings, dad and grandparents suddenly took a turn for the worse when, only two days in, I was knocked to the ground with an awful stomach virus.
Unable to fly back to Goodland, I was at the mercy of my family, of which my dad, primarily helped take care of me. He let me borrow his Nissan Leaf – an all-electric, zero emission car (awesome!), to visit his doctor. He even made the appointment for me. He helped nurse me back to help with my grandma’s secret recipe for the flu, and he made me homemade ginger ale and gave me electrolyte supplements. He even let me lie in his bed and watch the first round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs while he went to the game. (Go Blackhawks!!) He was my hero.
My youngest brother helped out by bringing me soup and my two other siblings checked on me frequently, as well as my mom from afar. My friends expressed concern as well, especially Susan, my best friend from high school, who also brought me soup.
Unfortunately,a recent flood had torn apart my dad’s house and the only place for me was the couch. But as comfy as that couch was – seriously, it was comfortable – there’s no place like home when you’re sick.
But I was home. Wasn’t I? Born and raised in the suburbs of Chicago, I left nine years ago and planted myself first on Marco and then, by the grace of the heavens, found Goodland. Over time, and without fully realizing it, Goodland has become my permanent home. And it was strange to be at “home” but miss my home at the same time. I wanted my bed, my boyfriend and my dog. I missed the comfort of my Island Doctor, Dr. DeMartino, and even my local pharmacy at Winn-Dixie.
I didn’t need a map to get to my dad’s doctor or to the local Wal-Mart, only a block away from where I grew up, but the unfamiliar faces made me feel uneasy. No smiles, no hello’s; people simply stare at the ground or any other direction so long as they don’t have to look at you. In Goodland and even Marco, everyone says hello – even to strangers. Shocking! And so it seems, I have truly lost the old “city girl” in me and havebecome a true Goodlander in my heart. After all, “home is where the heart is.”
While that saying may be true, my heart and my love is certainly with my family, but my home and my heart (it must be oversized – I better get to the doctor!), I realize, is also definitely Goodland. I’ve said this before, but our tiny village, in my opinion, is really like one big family. People know when you’re sick and they don’t have to be your immediate family to bring you soup, take you to the doctor or show general concern. News of illnesses and blessings pass throughout Goodland quickly and the villagers respond in the appropriate manner. People simply take care of each other here – just as my dad did for me while I visited his home.
When I first moved to Goodland, a good friend gave my first roommate a piece of inspirational art for her birthday that read, “Friends are the Family You Choose for Yourself.” I always liked that saying, and I find it to be more and more true the longer I live in Goodland.
I love my family and I always will; I wouldn’t change any of them. Our family, like any, isn’t perfect, but it’s perfect for us. They are allamazing in their own way, and even all three of my siblings have moved on, finding new homes for themselves that they love. But, at the same time, the new “family” I’ve chosen here in Goodland, I wouldn’t trade for the world. There’s simply no place like home.
Natalie Strom has lived in Goodland for five years and has worked in Goodland for over eight years. She was crowned Buzzard Queen at Stan’s Mullet Festival in 2009 and is a founding member of the Goodland Arts Alliance. Natalie is a graduate of the University of Iowa and Editor of the Coastal Breeze.
I dedicate this article to my Dad, Roy Strom, who took care of me like I was still his young child, innocent and in need of his care. He pulled through for me, and I am thankful for all the love and effort he gave in the middle of a hectic schedule. While his home may no longer be mine, I know I’m always welcome and will be greeted with warmth and love.
Natalie Strom has lived in Goodland for over two years and has worked in Goodland on and off for more than five years. She is a graduate of the University of Iowa and is also a former Buzzard Queen of Stan’s Idle Hour in Goodland. email: firstname.lastname@example.org[/author]