One of the songs that has been played heavily during my last few weeks of running (it’s a cool down kind of song) is Jason Mraz’ 93 Million Miles. I’m not advocating for him as an artist or songwriter but this particular song resonates with me (except for the cheesy ending of “your home’s inside of you”).
“Oh my beautiful mother
She told me, “Son in life you’re gonna go far, and if you do it right you’ll love where you are
Just know, that wherever you go, you can always come home
240 thousand miles from the Moon, we’ve come a long way to belong here,
To share this view of the night, a glorious night, over the horizon is another bright sky
Oh my irrefutable father,
He told me, “Son sometimes it may seem dark, but the absence of the light is a necessary part.
Just know, you’re never alone, you can always come back home”
Not everyone has a childhood home that they have positive feelings for. I am blessed that I do. And not everyone has parents who are still alive. I am blessed that I do. I have entire countries that now feel like home to me as well as two offices and running routes and an apartment and the list continues. They don’t all give me the exact same feelings of home but, in their own right, each provokes a feeling of safety, love, and excitement in me.
The run to Castle Island and Fort Independence. Seedy Mass Ave gives way to dazzling sand and sun. And memories of training for my first marathon with Betsy. The endless loops around the island, justified only by a need for mileage and endured simply because the loop was so gorgeous, it felt special every single time. Home.
My parents’ backyard. Endless forts, badminton games, swing set carnivals, and bike riding marathons took place here when I was a child. Easter Egg hunts, fire pits, movies shown on the side of the garage, babies crawling in the grass. The memories of having to weed the garden and mow the lawn have been forgotten but the memories of meals at the picnic table and pretend games (Batman and Robin, Robin Hood, Oregon Trail, Cowboys and Indians) have not been. Home.
England. People who accepted me, the stranger. A culture that makes no sense (to an American) – grumpy shopkeepers, insanely polite stiff upper lips, traffic jams nonstop, pebble beaches, endless cups of tea – but is so lovable that you embrace it regardless of your lack of understanding. A rich heritage, a fascinating culture, not to mention banoffee pie and bangers and mash and Indian curry takeaways. Home.
Boston. I don’t feel at home in Boston when I am in Boston. But traveling back from Providence or D.C. or Philly or New Haven, I feel the excitement building because I am going home to the city where I can navigate without maps, where I know how far everything is from everything else by T or bus or bike or foot. Where I have my Charles River and my Arboretum and my Minuteman Bike Path and I am only ever one bike ride away from the most fun I’ve ever had (or an accident, take your pick). Where I know the city routine and how early the city wakes up (much later than me) and how late it stays awake (ditto). Home.
As a kid, home meant wherever my parents were. And my stuff was. Where I knew I could get a glass of water without asking someone. Where I knew the location of the junk drawer. Now home has grown to include other houses, cities, states and countries. Sometimes, I find myself feeling at home sitting under a particular tree. Or standing on a certain bridge.
And probably the only reason that I feel at home there is because I know the truth – the one that my parents never have to articulate verbally because it’s a given – wherever I go, I can always come back home.