“You really can’t go home again. Sometimes, that’s a good thing. Sometimes, when you try, you find out that home isn’t really there anymore…
Sometimes, that’s the best thing of all.” ~ Mira Grant
As I sat this morning with my tea and glanced toward the open atlas as it laid on the table, a strange kind of wistfulness washed over me. Though this Journey, this Ride, has always been about walking with and sharing a snippet of the lives of other people, it has also become about the changes in me. I expected some, but others I did not. Some came charging through the doors in riotous “ah-ha!” moments, while others crept in like the proverbial cat paws on snow … leaving nary a trace … only realizing later they’ve curled up on my lap and made themselves at home in my soul. Such was the one that brought a reflective smile and bit of poignancy to heart today.Five months ago, on this day, I stepped into my car and left Upstate NY with barely a raw idea of where this road would lead me. Thirteen years ago – minus 5 days – I stepped out of my car in Waterloo, NY, having finally fulfilled a 40 year dream of moving to a place I considered “home.” A scattered background and non-existent family left me emotionally homeless, and NY was a place where, for a number of reasons, I felt a part of. It was where generations of long-past relatives had lived and died, and a place where I found peace and contentment. A place I thought I’d never leave.
In the last five months, I’ve covered a lot of territory … I’ve driven through 22 states and stayed with 30 families. I’ve gone from pot-roast and potatoes to grits and cheese, to burritos to tofu and quinoa. I stood under palms in a tank top & flip-flops in Texas … and two weeks later, I was brushing snow off the car in Colorado. Where I once listened for bear and deer along a trail, I now keep wary of rattlesnakes and cougar. And shake out my shoes every morning as I get dressed. In these short five months, so very much has changed … all that I see and hear, all that I touch and taste and smell. And I have changed.
I walk slower now. I smile more and worry less. I am softer, and my emotions are growing freer. I live now with the deep understanding that no one really knows what tomorrow will bring, and today is truly the only gift we have.
And something else changed … as I look at the map, the place I once called home seems so very far away – not in distance, but rather, in time and space. I am not the same person I was when I left and I find myself growing more and more ‘at home’ here, miles west of the great Mississippi, among the big skies and soaring mountains and sweeping canyons of the west. I once said that my heart would forever belong in New York state, but now that seems like a lifetime ago – perhaps it was. And as I page through old photos, remembering the lake I walked by and the favorite bench I sat on, a sort of wistfulness sweeps over me … yes, I know I can always go back when this grand Ride finally reaches it’s conclusion, but I doubt now that it will ever truly be “home” again. You see, it was someone else who lived there. I have also said that I’ve no idea where this journey will take me, or where or when it will end. That, I still know to be true.
There is so much more that yet lies ahead….