Last week, I was sipping a gin and soda on an airplane headed home from a stellar weekender trip to America’s heartland. There, I got to watch my favorite NFL team and get into a little mischief with my best bud. The trip was filled with killer BBQ, frosty beer, and some mediocre pick-up attempts to a handful of woman way out of our league. We #thrived, recollected on the good times, and made the most of our brief, yet precious time together. When it was time to depart, I felt a bittersweet rush of bliss and malaise.
Sitting on that plane, Sturgill Simpson pulsed through my ear buds. As his velvety voice washed away the immense anxiety of a Monday morning hangover, one verse in particular stuck with me, right in the feels, “But I swear that God is there, every time I glare in the eyes of my best friend.” My moments of inspiration on airplanes have really petered out since Sky Mall was discontinued, but at that moment I felt a surge of comfort, tranquility, and mental clarity. Though brief, the memories of that weekend will live in my heart forever.
I’d wager that most of us have lived a few different places in our day. Going away to school, relocating for a job, following the love of your life to a new place – these major life events uproot us and set us down in unfamiliar territory. Some places are more ideal than others, and after a while we tend to settle in even if our location isn’t our first choice. We join a gym, get acclimated to the major roadways, and life goes on. This is a perfectly ordinary scenario, if overly complacent.
I’ve moved a few times the last few years, and it has generally been without much fanfare. You pack your boxes, negotiate your damage deposit check, and hit the open road in hopes of fresh perspective and new scenery. Every place I’ve been, I have met amazing people. Every place I’ve been, I’ve had tough days. A one bedroom apartment in the dead of winter isn’t always the most cheerful place. Couple that with a strained social circle, and it can really do a number on your wellbeing.
Your friends branch out across the country, and the opportunities to get together thin out. It’s sobering. It’s hard enough to learn how to live on your own. Paradoxically, the more you return to your childhood home, the more you realize that things have changed. We find ourselves stuck in limbo, settling into our new surroundings yet fighting the idea that we are “just settling.”
You know what my biggest takeaway is from all this is? Home isn’t always where you lay your head down at night.
Home might be the weekend getaway to go drink $9 beers with old friends at a concert 6 hours away. Home might be the impulse airplane ticket two time zones away just to get a home cooked meal and hug from your mom. Home might be the Sunday afternoon phone call to shoot the bull and recap your buddy’s Friday night Tinder date. Home might just be setting down your keys, unzipping your work pants, and catching a few innings of the ballgame with your dog by your side. Home is where you make it.
This week, we celebrate the things we are most thankful for. Some of us will crowd around the table, laughing and carrying on with long lost cousins and new romantics interests. Some of us will join friendly acquaintances, brought together by strained work schedules, the inability to travel, and middle shelf wine.
A lot of us will say we are heading home for the holiday. Whether that home is a place or a mindset, take solace when you get there. Take a moment to appreciate what home is to you, and remember that you can always go back..
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