I spent ten hours traveling home yesterday.
If I drove myself for this long weekend away, it probably would have taken six hours, maybe a little less. I didn’t drive, however, because it was cheaper to cobble together this Frankenstein’s monster of train rides, bus tickets and pick-ups from inconveniently distant stations. It was pleasant, too, to spend the travel time on my laptop instead of watching the road, and heaven knows it was less stressful for my poor car.
The majority of the time yesterday was spent traversing Michigan, the state where I grew up and in which I now reside. Most of the trip was undertaken after sunset; even if I had chosen to look out the window, there was not much I could have seen. By the time my train hit its first delay, however, I had already lost interest in the view, one I had seen many times before.
To be honest, I’m really sick of traveling through Michigan. I am familiar with I-94 from east to west. I-275, M-14, US-23, I-69— sometimes, I feel like whenever I close my eyes, I will see one of these highways stretching out before me. It seems that I have spent the last eight years ping-ponging back and forth across the state. Planes, trains, automobiles (oh especially automobiles): I must know all the routes by heart now.
I know so many people who take immense pride in their home state, or at least the region of it where their roots lie. I am not one of those people. I was not born here, and I never expected to return as an adult. My family— well, my parents, actually— are the only true roots I feel here.
When I was a student still at Notre Dame, I wouldn’t have said that Michigan was home exactly, but it was linked more closely with that concept in my mind. It came with images of the library’s parking lot, the courtyard at my high school, the bookstore where I worked, the Denny’s around the corner. Now? I hear “Michigan” and think of this house where I grew up, the lake behind it, and little else positive that has that familiar shade of home. My church is on Shady Avenue in Pittsburgh, my coffee shop is in downtown Racine and I write best at a fourth floor desk with a view of the Basilica of the Sacred Heart.
My heart is in so many place, but most of the time it just isn’t here. Right now, “home” is a place I’m traveling through to get where I’m going.
this is the song I’m mulling over today