Monday, July 2, 2012

Where The Heart Is

They say home is where the heart is. I may have spent the last 10 years in the relative flat of Central Indiana and while I have come to accept it as my place of residence, I'm not sure it will ever be home.

And so it is that last week I found myself driving, across Indiana, through Ohio, skipping by Pennsylvania, traversing New York (there's a point on the New York State Throughway that every single time I reach every muscle in my body seems to relax a little more because the rolling landscape, views of the mountains in the distance, and the continuous green blanket of trees is what I know), over Vermont (literally over) and into New Hampshire.

The second half of my grade school years were spent in southwestern New Hampshire but I haven't been back for almost 6 years - or since my parents retired to the coast of Maine. It was strange to run in a town that's at the same time familiar and what I remember as a kid, but also different. The college has grown exponentially, big box stores and some national chain restaurants have moved in (this is a place that didn't have a Burger King until I was a senior in high school in the early 90's) so the town isn't as small as it once was but the main street is still lined with mom and pop establishments and maintains the small feel.

I had been sitting the better part of 18 hours in a large SUV and I was certain I wanted to run and stretch my legs - but I was also pretty sure that my body would protest the run. My HR shot up and never really evened out, and my legs felt heavy but as I wrote on Daily Mile, there's something to be said about running in a place where the heart and soul can exhale and relax. I ran through the downtown area and onto the campus of the local college - eventually making one large loop back to our hotel. My only regret for this run is that I didn't have more time as I would have liked to have spent an hour or two exploring by my own two feet.

After meeting my sister for lunch we packed up The Oldest and The Munchkin and continued east to where my parents are in Maine, and that's where I've been for the last few days. My time here is always far too short so I've been taking advantage of the rolling hills and the forested paths, or the ponds and ocean, while I can. The trails at home give me an opportunity to decompress but it's not the same. The scents. The sounds. The peace and calm. Me, the road, and nothing more but the sound of my breathing and the wind rustling the leaves in the trees.

The northeast is where, in my heart, I know I belong and it breaks a little to hear The Oldest remark about how beautiful the landscape is or how amazing the mountains are. I try to remain grateful that she is able to have the experiences that she has - that I am able to visit family that lives in one of the most beautiful areas of the country - but I wish that she could experience this every day. At the same time, I didn't truly understand what I had until I moved away and maybe these visits will help foster a greater sense of appreciation. I watch her with my parents - her grandparents - and try to commit special moments like her making cookies with her grammy or boogie boarding in the ocean with her poppa to memory. And I sit in the relatively bug-free enclosure of the screened in porch, take in a deep breath, and hope that I'll be able to take some of this serenity with me when I go.

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