It’s been over three years since I walked the streets of my childhood home town, over three years since I let the beauty of the Adirondack Mountains of New York State fill my eyes and my heart, over three years since I hugged my brother, my sister-in-law, sat on the porch of my nephew and his charming, loving wife. And that list of missed experiences stretches past that to others I’ve not seen.
One of the things I failed to consider when we moved from North Dakota to Florida was the challenge of traveling to see family and friends in Minnesota and North Dakota, and the Adirondack Mountain region in New York State. Truthfully, I didn’t see it as a challenge. It wasn’t at first. The long car trips were an annual adventure.
The change from adventure to challenge surprised me. I was unprepared for the claustrophobia that turned the adventure from fun and exciting to boring and tedious, and then to anxiety producing. I lost my ability to be distracted by audio books or books in print. Music began to irritate rather than entertain. Praise music continued to help as my favorite chauffeur, my husband, and I would sing loudly and off key. God’s creation viewed from the car window soothed but high traffic areas jangled. I came to love the arrivals but not the drive there or back to Florida.
Getting Molly, our little Boston Terrier, added a complication. She’s a great traveler but won’t go into any carrier kennel so no airplane trips. Molly demands lots of attention and she runs our house. She’s better in a home where she is the center of attention.
On the Minnesota-North Dakota side, she thinks she’s in charge over other pets in all homes. That makes for unwelcome tension. It means she spends most of her time alone in a bedroom with a closed door. That grieves my heart. The New York side has no easy place for Molly. Either dogs are not welcome or there are too many pets. Thus, having Molly tipped the decision to skip trips on the New York side and limit time in the Midwest. (Molly brings daily joy to us and I take pet ownership seriously. It comes with responsibilities.)
Two other factors now impact our travel decisions. One is aging. We don’t travel well when we have to drive too many miles and hours in a day. The other factor forces us to drive too many miles and hours. It is financial. Our budget doesn’t allow us to stretch our travel time. It did for some years. Not now. Our expenses increase but our revenue hovers at the same level.
Mostly I’m okay with all this until October. I long to be in my beloved mountains then, to see the awesome wonder of God splashed in vivid colors across mountain ranges, to walk near mountain lakes, to pull on warm sweaters and slacks, clothing seldom needed in Florida, and to scuff through crinkly, crunchy fallen leaves. I yearn to step out of the chill into a warm, welcoming home or a restaurant filled with the chatter of people. I want to count all those sweaters hanging on the backs of chairs in restaurants. Not a view you see in Florida.
I want to walk through the cemetery, to pause at the graves of loved ones, to stand at my parent’s graves and remember the day we buried my mother in an October heavy snowfall. One day it was the vision of October seen in tourist advertisements, the next it was winter. Next October will mark the tenth anniversary of that day. I would like to be there. Not sure that will happen.
In the midst of my yearning to go home in October, I thank God for this longing tied to my childhood hometown. Having that in my life is a blessing. There are people who never had the joy of good experiences in a hometown, refugees torn from home as toddlers, children raised in abusive homes or in dire poverty, people in war zones with no sign of peace. So I count my blessings; I thank God; I repeat my prayers of gratitude for our home spared in two hurricanes.
I long to be back in my mountains in October. That wish remains on my bucket list. My bucket is a very small pail. I know it is a selfish sort of wish. My prayer list has many more serious daily prayers for people in great need, for people in struggles, for loved ones. I do offset the requests with praises first. I haven’t ever prayed to spend time in the mountains in October. I mostly pray to be salt and light and to share my love of God with people. I don’t often pray for things for myself. There’s no need to pray about this October homesick spell. God knows my heart. I trust him with this longing and with my life.
I wonder how many of my readers are privileged to have strong, good memories of their childhood hometown. Thank God for those. And if you haven’t, I pray that God heals any wounds associated with that. Give God that wound to heal.