growing up we were expert movers. i don’t remember moving trucks. i just remember lots of helping hands and lots of trips to the new home. i remember checking at grocery stores for extra boxes… the banana ones were the best because they came with lids. for lots of the moving i learned all you really needed was a never ending supply of heavy duty garbage bags. you could fill them with clothes or stuffed animals or toys… the bags filled in the vacant, hard to get to, spots in the moving cars. boxes just weren’t as conforming.
maybe my recollection of the moves is tarnished… but i remember looking forward to most of the moves as an exciting adventure, a new room, a new school, new friends. i faced only one of the moves with reluctance and that was one that would take us out of state.
and although i wasn’t the kid with the same friends dating back to kindergarten or just one house that evolved with the entire family… i find that many places feel just as much like home as others.
when my airplane starts to make its final descent i stare out the window at the dry, brown earth. i make out south mountain or the buttes or the crook of a camel’s back. sometimes i spy the hospital i was born at, even though the building i was really born in is actually now a parking lot. often it’s a huge mountain to the right that i see as the plane glides over very still water. i press my face right up against the window thinking that will help me locate the spires quicker. other times all i can see is a deep and profound sea of green.
driving home is much the same. desolate land and two lane highways soon merges into an interstate that becomes more and more populated… even with 30 miles to go i am happy to be on I-17. but if i’m on I-15…. i admit it’s premature, but i usually get excited around nephi… eagerly passing each small town until finally finding Y mountain.
out here there are too many places to pinpoint. it’s driving along canal street and tracing my way to the red, brick chapel in chevy chase i first attended. it’s running across key or memorial bridges and stopping in the middle to feel the wind and look down at the potomac. it’s countless trails and back roads. it’s greasy pizza at mario’s. it’s virtually every metro stop where i can remember back to a certain moment in time. it’s each monument and museum that reminds of someone different. it’s my house by the cathedral, or my hotel-style apartment in crystal city. it’s sitting on hot smithsonian steps taking endless pictures with a digital camera.
it’s funny how now i know I-66 and 81 so well that i anticipate when my phone will drop or when the gas prices will fall about 20 cents. at the woodstock water tower i know i’m in the home stretch. exit 251 passes by a place where you can buy all things lawn ornament. a graveyard is on the right and then there’s the county school district. i slowly drive over train tracks and pass the gas station where a round woman once commented on the lovely shade of my car (her’s happened to also be maroon). i laugh at valley surplus’ sign that looks like a little green army man that really means business. i come over a tiny hill and know that i am home.