This past weekend, my family and I were fortunate enough, during an unfortunate summer, to be invited to spend three days with friends at their rented house in Lewes, Delaware. The short respite from the stresses lingering around at home with a healthy dose of sun, sand (that got stuck in all the wrong places), friends, and food was exactly what we needed. But Saturday, the third day, came despite my kids’ endless prayers to any deity willing to listen to their pleas of holding off going home just a little longer.
I spent the better part of Saturday morning trying to retrace my steps of how I packed the trunk of my car before we left three days earlier. I did my best to recall the teachings of my geometry teacher as I was trying to fit my wife’s suitcase between two beach chairs and the kids’ pillows. I was trying to get my family ready to head home because their patriarch was all set. I finally resorted to the tried and true method of ‘shoving as hard as possible’ to finish up the packing then headed back in to the house to wrangle up my kids and wife. I wanted to get everything ready because it was time to head home and I was excited to get back.
You see, I’m cursed.
Not by an ancient Egyptian pharaoh or by turning in to a werewolf at the sight of a full moon but by my home. Not by the town I live in, I have no control over the surroundings except to make the best of whatever they might be. But by my home. My home is where my memories reside. Where sunburns and sand rashes don’t hurt quite as much. Home is where the heart is. There is something about the familiarity of home that beckons to me at the end of any time away, no matter the duration (especially when grocery shopping with my wife).
So I gave them all the “go to the bathroom now because we’re not stopping five minutes after we leave” order and my wife gave me the “go through the house for the fifth time and make sure we didn’t forget anything” order. I finished scouring the house like a police detective looking for clues (and yet couldn’t shake the feeling we forgot something), the kids finished going to the bathroom, we said our ‘goodbyes’ and our ‘thank you’s’ and headed out, down US Route 1 North towards home.
I began to instantly get excited (I’m cursed I told you). Even after fifteen minutes in to the trip home when my wife and I had this conversation:
“Oh my god, I think I forgot my cell phone!”
“Isn’t that something you should have checked before we left?”
“You know what, you’ll turn around if I did forg…nevermind, I have it. Let’s go.”
My excitement never waned, even after my kids and I had this conversation:
“Daaaaddddyy, Hannah won’t let me use her DS game!”
“But Daddy I’m still playing it!”
I shot out of the toll booths zooming towards the highway like Secretariat at the Preakness as I tried to beat out the couple from New York in their Cadillac Escalade. I was able to block out the kids’ ‘Are we there yet’ questions that came at me every 10 minutes like clockwork. I listened to their music, repeatedly, to the point where other men would have cracked like they were subjected to enhanced interrogation by the Bush Administration. The last hour I drove with my legs crossed and slightly over the speed limit past every rest stop.
I was excited.
I was going back home.
As much as I love to go away, get out, leave the stresses of home behind me, and share in the excitement of my kids as we get to wherever it is we are going, is as much as I love getting back home when it is time. Enough to endure long car rides, music geared for the 8-14 year old demographic, potential long term bladder issues, and panicked realizations something may have been left behind by my wife to get back. Because everything seems to fit at home. Everything seems to be in the right place, even if that place is scattered along the floor or dripping in the refrigerator. Just because home can be filled with chaos, stress, headaches, piles of bills, uncut lawns, and dirty bathrooms, doesn’t mean my heart isn’t there too.
“No one realizes how beautiful it is to travel until he comes home and rests his head on his old, familiar pillow.” – Lin Yutang