By Tim Hayes

The other day, I was driving one of my kids from her college dorm to a series of appointments and other stops, and it hit me.

Weaving through traffic, taking little-known or appreciated short-cuts, skirting the numerous construction delays, and generally zipping around the city with ease and speed, the thought came to mind that it’s so great to be home.  To know a place so well that it becomes part of who you are.  And to love it so much that you thank your lucky stars every day that you get to live there.

For us, that’s Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, the place I call The Biggest Small Town in the World.

Years ago, speaking with a college professor who wasn’t familiar with Pittsburgh, he became intrigued, enamored, and delighted when I said this place was less a teeming metropolis and more a collection of neighborhoods separated by water and hills.

Pittsburgh has earned plenty of nicknames over the years:  Some Place Special, the Friendly City, and lots more.  Completely deserved, every one of them.  If you ask for directions around here, people won’t just tell you, they’ll get in their car and lead you.  There’s true civic pride here.  Pittsburghers who leave for jobs and college harbor thoughts about returning, and many do.  We did, 21 years ago, and it’s made all the difference for our kids and our extended family.  It’s the fact that Pittsburgh is home that means the most.

Home.  What a great word.  Packed with emotion and meaning.  The place where everybody wants to get to, where everybody wants to be, where everybody would love to stay.

John Denver sang, “Sometimes this old farm feels like a long, lost friend…hey it’s good to be back home again.”

Michael Buble crooned, “I’m just too far from where you are, I wanna come home…I’ve had my run, but baby I’m done, I gotta go home, let me come home.”

In one of his most famous bits, George Carlin drew hysterical comparisons between the militaristic aggressiveness of football and the bucolic charm of baseball, closing the routine with, “In baseball the object is to go home! And to be safe! I hope I’ll be safe at home!”

Then there’s the great Rocky Balboa, who opines, “You know, I think if you stay in one place long enough, you are that place.”

For Rocky, that place was Philadelphia.  Which is too bad, because the best place to be from in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania is on the other side of the state.  Right here in Pittsburgh.

We’re heading into the holiday season soon.  They say more people will be traveling this year than in recent years, which is great.  That means more people plan to make the journey to that place that still reverberates.  The place that helped make them what they have become.  The place that always changes in reality, but never changes in the mind.

There’s only one word for it.  The best word of all.  Home.

Copyright 2012 Tim Hayes Consulting