The Way Back Home

May 3, 2016


 Do you know your way back home? Where is home?


You might not think that you know, but you do. It's the first place that came to your mind when I asked.



My home, like most people's, is the house I grew up in, the one I was lucky enough to live in for eighteen years. It's the house by the train trestle, with the river out front and the creek out back. It's the house surrounded by nature, not houses. Most people reading this know the house I'm talking about. You've been there before. Many times. One year my mom counted the number of folks that walked through our front door. It was over 3,000. (That's an extrovert's wet-dream, right there.) 


Maybe you grew up in the sticks, too. I could tell if you did without asking you. I'd ask this instead, would you'd rather walk alone through a forest or an alley on a dark night? City-kids always say alley. 


But even though I grew up with dirt under my nails and poison oak on my skin, I've spent my entire adult life surviving major cities. And, I really didn't mean to, but, I raised city kids. I realized this when they heard a banjo playing and yelled, "Farmer's market music!" Well, you have to draw the line somewhere. So, we moved to a small town. It's not the sticks, I mean, they can't build a fort with tree branches but at least they can see the stars at night and hear the birds when they wake. That's worth something.


As kids we thought every day was a year. But as adults we learned, even things that feel permanent prove to be temporary. That's not my house anymore. It's someone else's. But it will always be my home. And I can go back there anytime I want. 


The way back home is paved with dirt. And it feels like the rise and fall of a twisting road. The path home is marked by every hue of green and the feeling of humid sea air on my skin. If I lose my way, I'll just follow the smell of a bonfire. The texture of a fern passing through my fingers will take me to an overgrown railroad-track that becomes a trestle balancing act. Careful! Don't fall down, down, down to the road below, like that puppy that's following you just did. Going home is walking along a river at dusk. It's skipping a stone across the water. It's the quiet.


I cried when I left that house. But I carry home inside my soul, and I can go back there anytime I want.



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