July 9, 2009

there's no place like home

“Ah, the Americans. Here are a people who seize
opportunities, poke cows, and invent a large cartoon mouse who can talk.”

For the past week, the United States has warmly welcomed me back to...

free public restrooms
free water at restaurants
free refills
free laundry at my apartment
(we call it the “Land of the Free” for a reason, folks)
cold milk
readily available drinking fountains
the lovely U.S. dollar
... to say nothing of dollar menus
cheap phone calls
air conditioning
hot showers with good water pressure
toilet handles
a huge wardrobe I’d forgotten about
my warm bed

... among other things.

That’s not to say there is nothing I miss about being in Europe. Looking through my pictures, I am reminded of what an incredible experience I had for those two months. But there is something about coming home. When we were riding the long train from Milan to Paris during one of my last days of adventuring, I listened to an album called The Road Home by the BYU Choirs. The songs echoed messages of travelers, literal and metaphorical, who speak of homecoming. Suddenly, I didn’t feel so achingly alone, just knowing that for centuries, millions of us have wrestled with the same questions about leaving and returning. About home.

Home is...
A mom who comes to the rescue by driving 20 miles to your bank to deposit money into your account when you’ve found that Europe is more expensive than you’d imagined.

Feeling your stomach jump into your heart as the airplane lands and the flight attendant says, “Welcome to Salt Lake City. For those of you who call this home... welcome home.”

A boyfriend who picks you up at the airport with roses in hand.

A sister and brother-in-law who delay their plans to have dinner out with you on your first night back.

Unlocking the door to your apartment and smelling that familiar, sweet smell of hardwood floors and the black leather couches you’ve grown to love so much.

Having a dear friend who is willing to help you unpack and settle in for an entire day.

... and that’s just the Provo version of home. I’m even more excited at the thought of returning to my family in Michigan later this month for a homecoming with a capitol H. I echo the words of an ancient Japanese proverb that warmly wishes: “May all of your journeys lead you home.” Because, let’s admit it. There’s just no better feeling.

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