March 6th this year marked the end of spring break, and I was in a car with four of my closest friends driving from South Florida to Ohio. I remember sitting in the passenger seat watching the landscape shift beside us and giving myself permission to love America: permission to be a little infatuated by the ups and downs and intricacies of our culture. Little did I know four months later I wouldn’t have to give myself any permission at all. Donald Miller said “Everybody has to leave their home and come back so they can love it again for all new reasons.” And isn’t that man just right about everything? This was almost a list post, but list posts can make you tired. So instead I’ll just talk about how there are so many things that I’m so excited to come home to.
My dad is in Liberia right now and sometimes we talk on the phone in a mutual how did we get here cataclysm. He tells me horror stories of long bumpy dirt roads and thieving cleaning ladies, and I fire back about trash men that have gone on strike and the birds at 5am. We hit the ground one week apart and I’m quite certain early August will see a second Fourth of July celebration in Rochester, New York.
I’ve realized here for the first time how lucky we are to have such a huge country. We can drive for days and days and land in a new place where we are understood; we are familiar; we are comfortable. This has its downsides of course, we’re lacking a diversity and cultural awareness that is so valuable. But what a privilege to have so many square miles that all feel like some measure of home.
Maybe this just tells me something about myself. Maybe it’s so important for me to feel understood that the concept of home sings louder for me than for other people. And it has absolutely been another lesson in crafting yourself a home wherever you are. Feeling at home in your own spirit, and at home in the Rock your spirit is standing on, and at home in a community you can build up in much less time than you thought possible.
But I’m also okay with home to me meaning a car I can drive fast by myself down almost empty roads, and standing on the solid ground of understanding my context, and the glories of cell service. A home with ketchup that is vastly different than the sugar water they’re trying to pass off over here, and summer storms, and abundant grass.
Anytime you call a new place home for a while you allow yourself to break off a piece of your heart and bury it there, and pieces of my heart are strewn all up and down the Mediterranean shoreline. Maybe one day I’ll be spread so thin that this won’t be true, but the biggest chunk still sits across the Atlantic somewhere from sea to shining sea if you catch my drift. And boy, I’m excited to see it.