This past weekend we attended an out-of-town wedding. Since Joel was involved in the ceremony, he left home on Friday. I followed on Saturday with Kerrington while a sitter watched the two older girls for the day. Kerrington proved to be a remarkably easy travel companion. For the duration of the ride, she alternated between sleeping and pleasantly batting the stuffed toy that dangled from her car seat.
The quietness was indulgent. The sunshine highlighted the golden trees, the miles passed with ease, and at several points I caught myself daydreaming. Although I must have paid attention to the road, more than once I was surprised at the passing mile markers, pleasantly unaware of how I had just traveled the last 20 miles.
It was roadtripping splendor.
Somewhere deep within I have a need to travel, a desire to see new things, a yearning to imagine life lived elsewhere. Along one stretch of road, I saw several properties for sale. I envisioned my life if that were my home, if these were my roads, if this was the the backdrop of my daily existence. And on a day so radiant with fall's beauty while driving in a car so quiet, I could let these thoughts percolate and breathe in the deep aroma of exploration and imagination.
While traveling as a child with my family, I would press my forehead against the window of our family's Chevy Monte Carlo and observe the nuances of daily life in different communities: the small cluster of teens on a playground, the two empty rocking chairs on a front porch, the inviting shop fronts along a small town's main road, the meandering paths, the architectural touches of uncommon buildings. Lives different than the one I was living unfolded in these locations, and from my backseat window I savored the glimpses into them.
This wanderlust still resonates within, perhaps even more now that I'm an adult. As a child, the future was wide-open and the dream of living in an elusive elsewhere still seemed plausible. As an adult, even a young one, my roots have grown deeper. Three children are now in tow. Uprooting seems less practical and more complicated than it once did. Even though I'm a person who generally doesn't seek change, every so often that desire is triggered like it was while I drove on Saturday.
Later that evening once the wedding was finished, I packed Kerrington into the car for our two-and-a-half hour trip home. The silence was still pleasing, but with each passing mile I grew more eager for one specific place: home.
My eyes were heavy and my thoughts less buoyant, but that desire to see my own home, my own streets, and the backdrop of my own daily existence remained steady and stable.
Home is rarely flashy to the people living there. A few weeks ago I needed to stop by my own town's visitor center. I've lived in this town for fourteen years, and I've never entered the visitor center before. I've had no need. I'm a resident, not a tourist. I'm a local, not someone who passes through looking for a unique way to spend the day. Because of this, it's possible that I'm blinded to its distinctive flavor because of its familiarity.
If I can have the mindset of a traveler in my own town, I'll be able to gaze at it in a new way -- just as if I were pressing my forehead against the backseat of the window and laying eyes upon it for the first time.