Saturday, October 26, 2013

This is Home

Autumn arrived in South Carolina these past two weeks– the autumn I've dreamed of since I left Colorado. The Pilot brought us home a fire pit, and excitedly we donned sweaters and sat in the twilight, watching the flames grow brighter as the sky grew darker. There is nothing that quite says fall as perfectly as the snapping, whispering, chuckling, and hissing of fire licking the wood, invading a dull, respectable log and burning it from the inside out, making it gleam and glow and shimmer with molten lava. I discovered that when you toss a handful of pine-needles into the fire, they start coiling and curling like springs, turning bright, pale gold for an instant before they disintegrate into the flames. Paper is fun to burn, too– the flames are feathery until the paper turns to ash.

This past week, for the first time since leaving Colorado, I have felt truly at home.

I came driving home one late afternoon, and the waning sun was filtering through the glade of pine trees which lines one side of a broad curve of the country road which leads past soybean fields and forests to get to our neighborhood. The play of light and shadow danced with the high blue autumn sky cupping the deep gold of the field and the brush along the side of the road. I have driven that same stretch of road a hundred times now, in the past four months, but suddenly something was different, I was seeing differently, and what I saw was home. My home.

This afternoon the Pilot and I got in my car and spent an hour just driving around the roads north of where we live, winding our way through different neighborhoods, taking wrong turns and seeing where we ended up. We call it "spelunking" and it's something we love to do together– a way to get out of the house, away from the devices, chores, and distractions that are always competing for attention, and a way to discover more about the places we've lived. But this afternoon was different. In Wichita Falls and Phoenix our explorations were fun, but the general feel was touristy. Today, rolling through the perfect golden-brown afternoon, I felt quite unmistakably that I belong here.

The joy in that statement is deep for me. I know that home is with my Pilot, wherever that may be– but to live in a place, and to belong to a place, are two different things entirely. I have been married less than two years and this is my third place to live in that time, and I confess I was convinced that I would never feel a sense of belonging in any place other than Colorado. I thought I would live many places, in this Air Force life, and help the Pilot carve out a home in each of them, but always with the sense of being strangers in a strange land, setting up a haven of the familiar in an alien place. But all of a sudden, that's not true any longer. I love Colorado and I will always love the mountains and their ceaseless, ceaselessly changing beauty. But today I find that I love the way the light filters through the pine trees along the country roads in South Carolina, and I love the wildflowers that spring up out of weeds on the sides of the road, and I love the South Carolinian autumn that takes longer than I would wish to arrive, but is worth every minute of the wait when it bursts upon us.

When the Pilot and I turned back into our neighborhood I looked at houses along the street and thought, For three whole years I will get to turn onto this street and think, I'm almost home; I'm back where I belong.

I am so thrilled that I belong to this guy
as I now belong in South Carolina!

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