When I was a kid we went on several road trips. Most of them took us to Ludington where we visited family, ran up and over sand dunes, and let the waves of Lake Michigan push us here and there and everywhere.
The drive there was full of anticipation. I couldn’t hardly wait to play with my cousins, to see my uncle and aunt, to smell the Big Lake and hear its roaring.
The drive home, though? It seemed to take forever. We’d drive well into the night some times, having stayed later than we’d intended because the visit was just that good, the weather just that beautiful. By the time we pulled into the driveway, I was full of longing.
It was a different kind of yearning from the trip to Ludington. That was full of expectation of the less familiar, the not-everyday. But the longing I felt for home was unlike anything else.
It was the desire to be where I belonged.
Now I’m older, home is in a different place and is full of different people. Still, after spending time away, I can’t wait to get back to where I belong.
In A Trail of Crumbs Pearl is lost in a storm. Millard (the mayor of Red River, Oklahoma) helps her find her way back. When they get to her porch he says, “Open your eyes. You’re home.”
When I wrote those five words in the novel I had an overwhelming memory of being carried inside my childhood home at the end of a long drive. I pretended to be asleep because it felt nice to be carried inside and put right into my bed.
As my dad carried me, he whispered in my ear, “Susie, we’re home.”
I’m sure he knew I was faking because I couldn’t help but smile.
I was where I belonged.