Van is a reader. Cue the applause! I couldn’t be happier about this, even when I’m reading the same book for the seventh time in a day. His latest book on repeat is Harold and the Purple Crayon. Since I’ve been reading it again and again, I’ve been trying to read it with different eyes. Last night, a few parts hit me.
Harold, with the moon in tow, goes out on an adventure when “he didn’t seem to be getting anywhere on the long straight path.” He winds up in one-tree forest, in the water, on a boat, on a mountain, and in a hot-air balloon before trying to find his home. He spends a long time looking until he realizes that he was doing it wrong all along. “He remembered where his bedroom window was, when there was a moon. It was always right around the moon.” Upon remembering that he could make his home anywhere, he drew the window for himself and his bed so that he could crawl in and be at home.
While there are many clear parallels to my life at the moment (even down to his obsession with the moon), isn’t this true for us all? Very few, if any, of us take the long, straight path. Instead, we alternate between a stride with purpose and a wander that leads us down new paths that we may have missed if we were too focused on the goal.
When we planned to leave our lives of comfort and convenience for a journey on four wheels, we had two intentions, to have adventures and to find a new home. What I failed to realize was that the latter goal would have more to do with how I would change over the course of our travels and less to do with the places themselves. Yes, we found places that we loved that surprised us (central Kentucky, anyone?), and we added places to our list of dream towns (Bozeman, Bend, Crested Butte…), but ultimately, our priorities for a place to call home changed in some significant ways.
Proximity to wilderness is still a top priority, but living in the middle of it is no longer something we’d prefer in this season of life. A sense of community is still important, but what that means to us has shifted. I’m less concerned with the specific interests and make-up of a community and more interested in general community traits like kindness, generosity, self-sufficiency, and a lack of self-centeredness. Snow is still at the top of our list, but less because we like snow (we do) and more because I like what snow does to people. It forces us to check any misguided notions that we are the center of the universe. Snow makes us contend with forces greater than ourselves and helps to deflate the ego, even if just a little bit.
All this adventure has brought me a lot of introspection. I’m different now than I was two years ago. But as my friend Saskia recently reminded me, home is something that I’ve had with me all along.