There's No Place Like Home

I sat inside the dimly lit theater with my heart pounding in my chest. The whole
morning had been one exciting adventure after another. Grandma and I had boarded a
streetcar in Madison and had crossed the Mississippi River to Downtown St. Louis in the
cable car. We had shopped the Ben Franklin’s five-and-dime store where my
grandmother bought me a yellow canary. We ate lunch at a local diner and I had an
orange soda pop. But, the crowning moment occurred when a special matinee of the
timeless classic, The Wizard of Oz, began to play.

Only a few times in my young life had I seen a movie in a theater but I had never
seen a movie in Technicolor. I clearly remember my wide-eyed awe when Dorothy’s
tornado-tossed house fell on the wicked witch and the young heroine emerged from the
house into the Land of Oz. From black and white to full color – the flowers, Munchkins,
and yellow brick road came to life before my eyes. Dorothy was given sparkling ruby
slippers and sent on her journey to find her way back to Kansas and home. My life was
forever marked by that adventure!

My husband and I recently returned from a 30-day road trip into Washington
State, down through Oregon, along the cost of Northern California, into Nevada and
Arizona, and then home through Oklahoma and Missouri to return us to Illinois. The
whole trip was an enthusiastic undertaking. We thrilled with each new experience. We
embraced every exciting activity. We enjoyed each and every tourist attraction.
Canyons, mountains, and redwoods – oh my! I could probably say that our knowledge of
U.S. geography transformed from black and white information into a living Technicolor
experience as we journeyed throughout our nation.

On Friday morning, three days before our trip ended, I set the GPS for home. The
route guidance began, and the sound of the lady’s voice, which had directed us for over
5000 miles at that point in our travels, softly spoke, “Close your eyes, tap your heels
together three times, and keep repeating ‘There’s no place like home.’” Well, if I did not
hear those instructions with my ears, I certainly heard them in my heart. Deep longings
for family, friends, and the familiar began to stir inside me.

Now I am home. My life has been forever marked by our adventure. My mind is
smarted from all I have seen. My courage is strengthened from all the brave new
frontiers I faced. My heart even resounds from within my chest with a new found love
for the land in which I live. But one thing that I did not need to discover through this
spectacular production was my love for home and family. I did not need to leave home
to realize its value. I did not need distance to make my heart grow fonder.
I am hopeful that life will afford me other grand journeys. From smaller
excursions to St. Louis to larger expeditions to more distant places, many moving
pictures will probably be in my future. I anticipate those travels. I look forward to those
ventures; because what I have learned from both Dorothy and my recent vacation is that
life is meant to be seen in Technicolor but never leave home without your ruby slippers!

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~Dr. Patti Amsden