My kids pretty much tackled me the moment I stuck my head out of the customs door at the airport last night. Glory was draped all over my left side, kissing my neck and popping my ribs with joy. Joel took out my left flank, jumping up and down with just enough gusto to make it ridiculous for me to walk. Noah ambled in third, reaching past the other two to pat the only exposed part of my back he could find. I dragged them all thirty feet before sticking my neck out like a giraffe to kiss Shauna. I held it just long enough to make all three of them uncomfortable.

Aaaahhhhh. I’m home.

The land of cooler—and cleaner—air. The kind of place where cities haven’t stuck out their urban elbows and bled into other cities to form megalopolises yet. Where missing an unforgiving turnoff doesn’t consign you to hellish miles of extra driving. Where a cute, two storey, poorly constructed home awaits me, smiling with a homemade “welcome home daddy” banner front and centre. A place where Glory takes me by the hand and shows me all the cool hand-me-downs she inherited from a taller friend while I was gone. Where Joel informs me that we will be reconstructing his A-Wing Rebel Fighter from the 1,234,564 pieces of errant lego carpeting his room. Where Noah proudly cracks open his wallet to show me he’s finally saved enough money to buy the video camera that will eventually forge his epic path to James-Cameron-itude. Where all three kids inhale the iconically fresh and greasy Randy’s Donuts I bought just before turning in my rental car yesterday. Where I can finally tuck my kids into bed, leaving them with a quiet sense that all is now right in the world. Where a cozy bed of my own, sunken in all the right places, hosts a plump, fresh pillow that knows my name. Where the love of my life waits for an evening of cuddling under the covers watching a valentine episode of Cake Boss while whispering, “I’m so glad you’re home” over and over again. Where I fall into a sweet sleep pulled toward the body I’ve been missing the past week while I’ve been adventuring, fellowshipping, and learning up and down the Sunny State of California.

Where I now sit the morning after in a tacky brown robe staring blankly out the kitchen window at our pathetic little tree while my feet enjoy the coolness of floor tile that won’t warm up at all today.

Where I belong.