Daily Prompt: Far From Home
WordPress has its own blog where it posts a daily prompt to help inspire new blog posts. I thought it might be fun to pick one when they grab me as interesting and see where it goes.
The furthest place from home I’ve physically travelled to is probably Northern Michigan. I flew into Milwaukee, where my ex-boyfriend came to pick me up. He and his family had already been staying at his grandparents’ camp near Lake Superior for a couple of weeks before I hauled myself across the water. He drove down to Wisconsin to meet me.
Following a recovery night in a noisy hotel near the airport where I slept the plane air out of my lungs, we bought coffee and cinnamon buns and hit the road. It was a weird sensation stopping off in Green Bay. Having been a co-opted Packers fan for years it was surreal to finally be stood at the feet of Vince Lombardi’s bronze form. I gave him a salute.
At the camp I was out of my comfort zone to say the very least. I wasn’t just physically a long way from home; I was away from the luxury of showers, shops and non-campfire food.
The only way of washing was with a few taps and a manually stoked sauna. Second generation Scandinavians, eh? The outside toilet flush was something of a lottery. Traipsing to it in the muggy night air was an exercise in prayer. I felt grubby. And at the time, the way I presented myself didn’t sit harmoniously with grubby. There was one memorable, gorgeous night, though. The entire family – from great-grandparents to small children – sat around the campfire cooking sausages, drinking beer, cracking near-the-knuckle jokes and listening to coyotes cry. It was like a scene from a film.
Despite the movie magic, I was relieved when the six of us heading south eventually got back on the road. That first shower I had on arriving at the Madison Hilton was the sweetest meeting of skin and hot water that’s ever been. I loved Madison. His sister and her family lived there. A college town felt a lot more familiar.
We then pushed on through Illinois. Much to my disappointment we merely skirted around the edge of Chicago. I wanted pizza and I didn’t get it. That night we settled in some nondescript highway hotel in the middle of acres of cornfields. Everyone else was bored to tears with the millions of blurry ears of corn that went whizzing past us. I enjoyed it. This was America.
We got back on the road early the next day, rolling through what remained of Indiana and then Kentucky. I had made several pleas to cruise through Elizabethtown on our way home. The promise that we’d see it was forgotten. That absent-mindedness made my attachment to the film named after the town even more poignant. “We are the substitute people,” Kirsten Dunst preached to Orlando Bloom.
We stopped for petrol in Kentucky and debated whether to stay there the night or just keep going. We were so close to Middle Tennessee by that point we all agreed we should go for one last push and save ourselves from another night in a Best Western. We made it later that evening. Then I felt home. Tennessee used to be my American home. The minute the pilot would start giving the local time and ground temperature on descending into Nashville it felt like coming home. It was nice.
That relationship eventually died a mucky death and Tennessee hasn’t been home for many years. It took a year or so to let it go, but I’m perfectly fine with that now. I think of it like a ten-year video that captured my life at that time and shaped me. Something I can watch back and remember fondly; repeating lines from the script for nostalgia’s sake but never wanting to jump into the screen again.
Home, though, isn’t really a physical place, is it? It’s a state of mind. It’s where you feel comfortable and safe. It is contentment. It’s where you most feel you belong and where the people you feel your best with are. Sometimes home is in more than one place. Home is where the heart is.
Am I close to home at the moment? Not exactly. It’s a little like being out at sea in a storm, rowing furiously to get back to where I should be, looking through a telescope for the beam of a lighthouse. Land will be ahoy soon though. No storm can rage forever.