14733 km to Home
Guest Post by: Christine Mayworm, Program Director.
How do you define it?
Is it the place you were born?
Is it the place where you’ve spent the majority of your life?
Is it where you are living now?
Or, is it not a place at all, but rather a state of mind?
The cross- country journey I just returned from took me from my current home (Surrey) back to my home town (Chicago), to the various places my children call home, and the various places I used to call home. This journey was made possible by Delilah, the delicate, 4-wheel-drive, high clearance, high mileage, gas-guzzling, right-handed, Japanese- imported minivan. She was to be my home away from home.
She had to have the bare necessities: a bed, a stove, water, some cooking equipment, clothes/shoes/boots/hats, first aid, a tool kit, and a box of auto supplies. It’s what every basic home entails. But she wasn’t going to be ANY person’s home, she was going to be MY home. What did I need to make her feel like my home?
To start, it was my pillows and comforter. Good coffee is very important so that required my cast-iron kettle, a hand-crank coffee grinder, the French press and my favourite mug. In the kitchen area, that meant my most-used spices and a real wine glass, plates and cloth napkins in case I have guests. Then comes the finishing touch: candles, tea lights, a good sound system, an oriental rug and a plant. All the things that make a “house” a home, as they say.
And off we go……
I didn’t know Delilah very well, so I didn’t trust her. Because I didn’t yet trust her, I couldn’t relax. But as with any relationship, trust builds on experiences you share together and proving that you will be there for each other. Delilah started every time, kept me warm in the freeze, sped along happily on the highway and gave me safe refuge at night. In return, I didn’t push her too hard, didn’t let her get too hungry, kept all her fluids topped, and gave her a treat now and then of high octane. And as this relationship grew, I felt ever more at home in her.
It was the traveling to and from that was “our time.” These were the moments to explore new places. These were the moments that she was made for. …the adventures. Sometimes there was a specific destination and sometimes there was just a rough estimate. How far can we go before dark? In the beginning, the places didn’t have to have anything special, just some privacy and the hope that I wouldn’t get a knock on the window in the middle of the night telling me to move on.
But as the trip evolved and I spent more time at other’s places, sleeping in guest rooms and on couches, a guest in someone else’s home, I started to long for a home of my own. Sometimes I would sit in Delilah with the curtains drawn just to take a break and relax in my space. I started to put more requirements on the places we would stop for the night. More often than not, after several attempts to find the perfect spot, we would just pull over some place off road to sleep and then try again in the morning to find the perfect spot to get out the stove and make coffee. It needed to be in nature, with the sounds of nature. If there was a spot for a fire, great! But that did not happen often. I found myself compromising on features: the established campgrounds had a toilet and a fire pit, but there were usually people close by. One spot in the redwoods was too close to the highway noise; a nice spot on the Oregon coast was secluded but I had to leave Delilah in a lot and walk all my supplies in…missing her conveniences. The last spot in the Colombian Gorge was the last place I could find to pull off before it got pitch black. I kept Delilah closed up in this spot.
I am now back in Surrey, sitting in my camp chair on the deck of the trailer at the farm. I hear the sounds of the frogs and a myriad of birds singing their evening song as they prepare for the dark. I can smell the moist musk of the trees and fields around me. It’s the smell of early summer. I look up and just beyond the fire pit I see 3 horses walking in a line down the driveway in search of something good to munch. To the right of them there’s a goat and two sheep browsing a little further into the heavy brush. And then it occurs to me.
This is home! This is what I had been in search of all along those out of the way roads. The longer I was away, the stronger the urge was to find the place to feel at home. And it led me here. 14,733 km later and it feels good to be home.