I traveled Home three times this summer, always arriving at a different place. Living between two countries, having belongings stored in various friend’s garages with the promise, “we’ll only be gone two years” turning into three, four, five years… creates a sense of place in the world that is neither Here nor There. I relish that nomadic sense of wonderment: without place or permanence. In my early twenties, the perceived ability to jump on a plane and start an adventure far away from potential roots grabbing hold was how I defined myself.
As footloose and fancy free as that propelling philosophy is, I have always given credence to Home. It is the leaving Home and the coming Home that makes the part in between: adventure. Without these bookends to help process and digest the experience, the journey cannot happen. You must leave what is making you feel lost to find yourself; say good-bye to what is winding you up to feel refreshed; flee the routine to live the unexpected. Returning to a starting point puts a journey into perspective, helps you appreciate the time you have taken to explore, relax, learn, and reset your compass.
View of the Bitterroot mountain range from the porch.
The wooden porch, wrapping around my parents’ yellow farmhouse in the Bitterroot Valley in Montana, has become a Home my soul seeks. I first felt its power after returning from a year of backpacking around Africa and Asia. Under the forgiving expanse of the Big Sky, I began to process the enormity of what I had done; I felt the accomplishment of setting off alone with a one-way ticket to Bangkok in hand; and the temporarily debilitating fear of what I would do next. Carter and I were married beside a creek nearby, and after Oscar was born, we checked in with the peaceful rhythms of Montana to get to know each other and begin life as a family.
The second Home we visited this summer is my original starting place, the house in the Midwest where I grew up. The loud echo of cicadas and familiar summer-time smells of cut grass and BBQ accompanied Oscar and me on our walks into town to the old-fashioned ice-cream parlor where I spent my allowance as a kid. Driving through the shady streets is a tour of firsts: first time riding a bike, first play performance, first kiss… But it is my family that makes this place Home. They are my anchor, and without them I could never travel so far.
Sharing sweet memory lane with the next generation.
Carter and I are still searching for the place we, as a family, will call Home; the Home that will set Oscar’s compass. For the time being it is Guadalajara, Mexico, and that is the Home we have journeyed back to after our summer of checking in State-side. But this Home does not go deeper than the mortar and bricks around us. Coming back to this starting point, I realize that Guadalajara is part of a continuing adventure. We pay rent, own a car and lots of furniture, but these things do not make a Home. Our existence and our community is transient in nature; the sprawling urban canvas does not cradle my soul and ground me with its energy, but instead keeps me searching.