I am headed to Winnipeg tomorrow morning and, oh boy, am I excited. It doesn’t seem to matter how long I have lived away, there is just nothing like going home.

First off, I get to be spoiled to death by my mom and Peter. Is there anything better than getting to your bedroom at home knowing you are going to get to sleep in late under fresh, soft sheets? My mom usually leaves me little gifts on my bed for me to find or even just mail and magazines I continue to get at her house. Sometimes there is even a candle lit to make everything smell like lavender.

Then there is the food. Oh, if only I had known what I would miss before I left I would have done a better job trying to get sick of it. Upon arrival, I head directly to the pantry to dig out a Coffee Crisp chocolate bar. My mom always buys a bunch of these knowing that I will want some at any time of the day. Likewise, with Hawkins cheezies, thick slices of prairie bread, tuna salad from Bernstein’s, and chocolate macaroons. In the mornings, it’s crepes with brown sugar and maple syrup paired with a side of back bacon rolled in cornmeal. Evenings with my parents are usually spent sitting at the kitchen bar having some wine and catching up while Peter cooks. I love these times as there is always so much to talk about, no matter how frequently we’ve tried to talk on the phone.

Then there is seeing my friends. After nearly 15 years living away, my group has been whittled down into a hard, little pack of greatness. At the center of it is always my best friend Kristin, who often plans an entire day of fun to showcase the latest and greatest Winnipeg has to offer. This can be anything from pedicures to visiting the latest clothing boutiques to sipping artisanal coffee to ending the day playing with dinosaurs and coloring with Kristin’s babes Greta and Henry, whom I can’t wait to hug sooooo big.

I also always see my friends Stephanie and Carrie, with whom I worked for years at the Medicine Rock Café. Turns out if you bus enough tables together, it makes you friends for life. We always have a wonderful lunch or happy hour together reminiscing about the old days, yes, but also catching up on the new.

And then, of course, there is my friend Stefan, who owns an organic farm and always promises scintillating foodie conversation over a lovely meal.

With all the eating and, umm, drinking while at home, jogging is always on my to-do list while in town, in large part because Winnipeg is as flat as a pancake and, this time of year, usually nice and cool. I love to run along the winding river near my parents’ house and try to get all the way to Assiniboine Park if I can.

When I’m home, I also often try to take a drive by my old apartment downtown, in part to be nostalgic and in part to see how much things have changed (and improved). I just loved my time living downtown. I worked at a food magazine and part of my job was to write restaurant reviews, which “required” that I dine out nearly every night. It was such an exciting time, filled with the relief of being finished with school and excitement of being on the cusp of my career.

Of course, I was poor as a church mouse, but in the midst of it, every six weeks or so, William would fly all the way up north (one time in -60 degree weather, making Winnipeg the coldest place on earth) to be with me. Then, he’d treat me to the fanciest restaurants, the latest ballet, the coldest martinis.

And that, finally, is perhaps the most heartening thing about being in Winnipeg: I get to miss William and all that is here in Kentucky, my second home, the one I chose and the one that I learn to love harder with each passing year.

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