Why coming home will always be the most important journey you take:
It will make you wonder why you ever left and remind you exactly why you did.
Something I’ve learned from uprooting my life every few years is that home is not a place. It’s an idea. It’s a feeling. When I moved to Washington I instantly felt like I had found something that I always knew was missing, I felt at home. The first time I flew to London I turned to the husband and said, “I feel like I’m home” not because of the city but because I was reunited with him after months of being apart. It didn’t matter that I had never been there before or that we were staying in a hotel. My heart was exactly where it was supposed to be in that instant.
I spent 8 years growing up in Canaseraga, the majority of which I refused to claim that I was from NY. I never quite felt like I belonged there. It probably didn’t help that most of the time my head was in far off lands that I found more enticing than small town America. The moment my feet landed in one of those far off places, that all changed. My first twinge of homesickness wasn’t for anywhere but that one-horse town that I now proudly proclaim as my own! I’ve discovered that this is indeed where my roots took hold. What makes them so strong is not the years I spent in that place, it is how I spent those years. Being a preacher’s kid the expectation is that your butt is in that pew on Sundays. The truth is that it pretty much always was but more due to the candy in Ms Tina’s purse than any societal expectation. My best friend sat next to me and the women that surrounded us have shown me what love and enduring friendship can be. That kind of atmosphere is intoxicating and kept me coming back.
I have 8 years of those types of memories. From the basketball courts to the bus rides to the Saturday mornings at Wilson’s. These are all similar places I could have seen elsewhere, what makes them part of my home are the people that were there. While that stretch of valley will always be familiar it wouldn’t necessarily always feel like home. Unless I can find my way into my grandparent’s arms or fall into a deep conversation with my best friend on the sidewalk outside her house it won’t be home. I can feel at home across the pond or on the streets of Charleston as long as the husband is there to hold my hand. I can feel at home climbing the stairs to Mont St Michel because my parents are beside me. I can feel at home in any airport if I simply pick up the phone to call my sister. It’s always about the people. Knowing that is what makes leaving possible. There are other places to find a home in. There are different people to learn from and to grow with. Nothing and no one will ever be able to replace the beauty or nostalgic past we have in that stretch of valley but that doesn’t mean that the future doesn’t hold possibility for equally as beautiful things.
Coming back I have seen the streets are mostly unchanged and the faces still familiar. As I read about the chaos that engulfs our world it gives me a great sense of stability and security to know that there are corners of it that can remain unscathed. Life is simpler in a small town and ya know what? Life really can be just that simple. That is one of the best lessons those summers riding my blue bike down to the Old Mill or scouring the house for pennies to buy those tootsie rolls from Mastin’s taught me. Life can be full of simple joys and we should take the time to enjoy them. I am blessed to call Canaseraga home and I am grateful to be able to come back and visit those who make it home for me. Devouring a ‘small’ ice cream cone the size of my face before going to dinner with Ms Tina is a nice reminder of why I miss this place but my head will forever be in far away lands because as long as I am surrounded by amazing people whom I love, I am home.