I wandered over to Chattanooga for Memorial Day weekend. I filmed some exploits at North Carolina’s DuPont State Forest en route to Tennessee. Be on the lookout for that fun video soon.
Hiking the trails at DuPont and camping out that night gave me a real return to #RunningTo. It was a whimsical wandering among waterfalls that left me longing anew for my now deceased journey.
My new home of Charlotte has often left me staggering like a drunken vagrant unsure of his left and right. It’s not really the sensation I was going for when I closed my road trip and opted for home.
I expected home to feel easier.
At the end of my DuPont hike, I came across two little girls playing on some rocks. They had long sticks in their hands, and they were prancing about like they owned the entire forest. Indeed, one girl waved her stick and shouted to the other:
“I declare this my home, because my name is written here.”
I stopped and stared at the girl. Probably stared longer than I should have. I walked away awed by her words. They were so profound.
Earlier that morning I’d read a story with my 5th graders about a boy named David who moved away from his home in the city to his mother’s old home in the country. He was angry at his mom for moving him away from the only home he’d ever known.
One night David was etching his name into the country hillside. When he dotted the i of his name into the dirt, he discovered something. It was a long lost key that matched the lock on his mother’s antique music box, shut and dormant for years. The rusty key opened the box and brought the music back, and it eventually restored the mother-son relationship.
The key would have never been found had an angsty little boy not written his name into the hills. His new home.
For 282 days on the road, I made a habit of writing my name everywhere. I signed museum guestbooks, I carved into park benches, and I even took sticks to sandy beaches and forest floors alike.
I was a bit narcissistic on the road, I’ll admit. But I wanted the world to know about my road trip and my fleeting presence from state to province.
Since erasing the odometer, though, I’ve also ceased writing my name everywhere I go. I guess I haven’t felt much ownership of this new city — this new home. Not like I owned the road.
I haven’t felt much like the little girl with a stick at Dupont Forest.
I haven’t felt much like David before he set to the hills with a stick of his own.
But maybe I should just grab a stick already. Maybe I should start writing my name all over Charlotte.
Maybe if you’re feeling lost and away from home, you should write your name wherever you are, too. Maybe you’ll make a pivotal discovery in the dirt like David did. Or maybe you’ll learn to declare this place your home like the little girl.
Perhaps we should try this together. This whole notion of writing down our names and owning our homes, new or otherwise.
Sometimes you don’t find home; sometimes you make home.
So let’s spell out our names, large and bold, over and over, and let’s see if we can induce some flutters of home.
Grab a stick with me. Let’s declare this place ours.
Where is home for you? Do you feel far from home or lost?