Home. It’s where the heart is, right? It also happens to be where the dog is, and the food, and perfect couch positioned directly in front of the HBO equipped flatscreen. It’s where you read the comics over Dad’s shoulder every morning, before starting your days bound to no particular schedule. It’s where Grandmother’s huckleberry pies await. It’s also somewhere I haven’t spent nearly enough time.
I first left home as a junior in high school in order to further pursue skiing. For a few years, I reveled in my premature independence. Aware that I actually wasn’t independent at all, I was still fully funded, fed and usually accompanied by my parents, I avoided time at home to legitimize my adulthood by animating and reinforcing my teenage angst.
Then came college, and the vast, gaping communicative oblivion that comes with it. While I was studying, exploring and experimenting, my connection to home continued to blur. Like so many young students, I felt the need to somehow remake myself, which somehow also meant disconnecting from home. It was as if I feared staying there too long would somehow retrograde me back to the less educated, worldly version of myself (mind you, I am still neither all that educated, nor worldly, so that was a scary thought).
And then I left college. About a month into budgeting and fundraising coupled with car, house and equipment repairs gave me a glimpse of true independence. It also rendered it meaningless without a sense of home. Midway through the summer, whilst on a four hour adventure OD run, one of my teammates posed the question: If you could go anywhere in the world right now, where would you go? The answer was easy.
This fall, because the domestic early season circuit takes us all over the West, I’ll get to spend the more time at home than I have in the last four years. And I blamed skiing for keeping me away, turns out it was school (insert toldyaso dropout chuckle). Thus, en route to Park City, I stopped by Spokane for a week of hometown bliss.
Upon my return home, I immediately came down with an evil travel virus that threatened to sabotage my entire week of fun (I blame the small child next to me on my second flight, her coughs were pointed). However, it turned out to be a blessing, because for the first time in a while, being home meant just that: being home. I got the chance to reconnect with my parents, my dog and, finally, my couch.
You don’t realize just how dependent you are until you become ill. In the Nordic skiing world, one cough is enough to isolate you from your peers for the unforeseeable future. It’s like one of those head cones dogs wear after surgery, which no doubt makes them an outcast to their dog friends. Illness spells shame, it says that you weren’t careful, that you could infect your teammates.
But not to your momma and daddy. All week, I had the benefit of two live in doctors who feared neither coughs nor sneezes, who braved both hugs and kisses. A week of care reminded me of the unconditional value of the love at home, maybe that pesky virus was the best thing that could have happened.
Either way, I’ve come away from the week grateful for my community and my family, and plan to hold both closer to me this winter.
Also, this: You go Gwen.