I arrived home yesterday afternoon. I can name a lot of sweet things – apples, pumpkin pie, infant smiles, that line in your favorite book – but there is nothing quite as sweet as the hug you get from someone who really missed you. My mother met me at the airport, and I was home as soon as she wrapped me up and squeezed me tight.
I’ve been pretty far from my house for the last two weeks.
For the first half of my trip I slept on my older sister’s couch all the way on the opposite coast. We talked, joked, quoted old movies, played board games, watched new movies, stayed up too late, and slept in a little. I was 2,500 miles from where I live – I couldn’t have gotten much farther away without using my passport – but honestly? That was home too.
For the second half of my trip, I used my passport. I headed south with twenty other men and women from my church and spent four long days building a house for someone I had never met before. I was up at six-thirty every morning, which felt a bit like pulling myself out of bed with most of my mind still lost in my pillow. I ate breakfast, and started work at eight, drove nails and split lumber and smoothed plaster until noon, ate again, hammered, cut, and spackled until seven. Then I ate, showered, and dropped into bed.
The air was dry, and I guzzled water. The sun was hot, and I felt like I’d exchanged my skin for a film of grease, trying to keep myself constantly coated in sunscreen. The grease caught sawdust, dirt, plaster dust, and sweat. I didn’t feel much like myself in heavy boots, and jeans and tees I could care less about destroying.
I wasn’t in my home, but I was in someone’s. It was beautiful and they were infinitely generous in sharing it with me, making sure I left again in one piece. I could have stayed there longer and come back just as whole.
And I’m tired now, ready to sleep for heavily stacked hours, but I could do it again.
They keep telling me that home is where the heart is, but I understand what they’re saying less and less as I get older. I keep seeing new places, and the farther I travel, the wider I believe these hearts we’re carrying really are.