My heart is at ease knowing that what was meant for me will never miss me, and that what misses me was never meant for me. – Imam ash-Shafi’i
There is a shortlist of places we have traveled over the past two years where we felt at home the moment we arrived. Val Gardena in the Dolomites, the Tuscan coastal town of Forte Dei Marmi, Barcelona, Spain, and Valetta, Malta were the most prominent examples until we arrived in Sun Valley, Idaho.
We are not sure what accounts for the immediate settling that blankets our experience. We have noticed some common themes in looking back over places we have felt instantly at home.
In each place, we rented apartments from locals and learned a great deal from our one on one experience with them. We had access to good, quality, delicious food markets. Access to the beach or the mountains was easy, well-marked, and didn’t require special equipment. We found people were kind, helpful, and genuinely welcomed our children in these locations. It was not a superficial customer service kind of welcome but rather a community value around kindness that was palatable in all interactions.
The most telling indicator for us as a family is that in each of these places, whether we stayed for a week or three months, we were not ready to leave when the time came. We left longing for a future time to discover the treasures of these locales that welcomed us with an easy knowing warmth that beckoned long after moving on. It is an ease that is characterized by an absence of difficulty or effort more than a list of positive attributes. It can’t be faked and it is unforgettable once experienced.