By Julie Stafford • Last Updated 9:34 pm on Friday, December 02, 2011

Julie Stafford

I’ve had a couple such places. There’s a beach in Maui that I can picture when I close my eyes if I try hard enough. I hear the lap of waves rolling on the beach and see forever toward the horizon and smell the salty ocean. It’s a place where I feel at peace. A place to which we traveled for adventure when our kids were little and to heal after the trauma of having a child diagnosed with cancer.
My grandmother’s house on South Street was another draw because I spent so much time there and created lifelong memories of summertime visits with my cousins, and playing cards on her pink shag carpeted porch, and eating Captain Crunch at the counter in her kitchen while watching Captain Kangaroo before school.

The house I grew up in just down the way on South Street has that same emotional connection. I still can conjure the smell when you first walked in to the house. The smell of wood smoke, and pot roast, and fresh flowers always told me I was home. It was the house where my dad grew up, where friends were always welcome, where I came back to center after the ups and downs of those dramatic teenage years.

In January, my three kids and I will trek across country toward a new beginning, a fresh start in the only place I always have considered my true home. The place where I was raised and went to school and learned about the midwestern values that are part of my very core. In January, we will settle in to a new life in Greenville.

In Colorado, we leave behind a house where all three of my children have grown up, a school they’ve been part of since the age of 3, and friends who have walked with us through the best and worst of times. But what we get in return is a chance to settle in to a new way of living, where your neighbors really care about how you’re doing, where we have grandma and aunts and uncles and cousins. And where we can regroup as a mom and three kids and figure out what our next step as Michiganders will be.

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