Seven years ago I went on a drive alone in the early spring. It was unseasonably warm, and the time of day where the sun was setting in a pinky-purple dusky sky. I loaded myself up in my car and drove with no destination in mind, trying to push myself beyond the roads I’d memorized in this town I had called home for the past four years. Usually I am a cautious driver, careful to follow the tried and true routes to avoid the potential of getting lost. But the truth was, I didn’t give a damn that evening. I drove on, the familiar routes fading into the background as I pushed outside the city into little areas I had never seen before and the sun sank lower and lower and the sky got pinker and more purple and then a dusky blue.
Even if I wasn’t lost yet physically, I was long gone emotionally, sinking deeper and deeper into the loneliest moments of my life. Completely alone in this town, broken into pieces so sore that the passing glance of a stranger felt all at once sharp and intrusive and heavy and burdensome. While at the same time it didn’t – I was so numb from feeling all the feelings that I was a walking contradiction. Please don’t even look at me because it hurts too much, but if you do, oh well. I didn’t have the energy to care anymore.
I drove and drove until I reached this little spot. Maybe after all these years I am romanticizing the area, and I am confident I could never find it again even if I tried – a mossy hill with a little bridge crossing a small creek. As I approached the hill the last of the pink in the sky glowed slightly brighter before slipping beneath the horizon and I swear to you, as I crossed that bridge I knew something magic was going to happen.
When I crossed that bridge, this is what I saw: me and my future family together in our home, warm lamps aglow inside a living room of laughing kids and me leaning into my husband with the joy of being exactly where I was supposed to be.
I was home.
For one moment, I felt a deep sigh of relief unburden my body of all the tiredness and despair. I felt the rushing, all-consuming sense of the complete relief of coming home.
And I knew. I knew crossing that bridge that while things weren’t anything close to okay in my life right then, they were going to be.
I can’t remember what song I was listening to at the moment. I wish I could. I wish I could remember what I was wearing or what had happened earlier that day, but I don’t. All I remember was the scenery and the air and the sky and the moment that washed over me.
I have moments so sacred I haven’t figured out how to write about them yet. They sit like little jewels in my pockets, little sparkly secrets of moments in my life I have shared with not a single soul. I’m not sure how many of them I will ever share. So while I can replay that moment on the mossy hill like a movie in my mind over and over, but I’ve never spoken about it to anyone. Sometimes its easier to write it, to tell it without the outside influence of people’s facial expressions or background noise or all of the things that seem to steal a little bit of magic out of stories.
These little gifts, that sigh of relief, that split-second vision of complete joy and comfort that carried me through some damn dark days that still were yet to come – that’s it, you guys. I can’t explain what “it” is. You just know it when you get there.
Late this afternoon, my husband popped into my office and said “lets go for a drive”. Our daughter was with her grandparents for the evening so I could get some work done, but the sun was setting and it was such a beautiful, unseasonably warm day that I said yes.
On our drive we commented on the stunning sunset. We talked about our hometown and how we never want to leave and how lucky we are in this life. My husband mentioned that he used to go on drives this time of evening when he was away at college his first year and what an awful year it was, and how whenever he drives with me and our daughter during this time of day he is struck by how beautifully far away his life is now from those moments eleven years ago.
I looked out the window down at the matted, straw colored grass where only days before there had been snow, and up at the ombre sky in pinks and blues and purples. And I thought, I know exactly what you mean. I looked at that same sky I drove under seven years ago and think of all it has seen.
And now I am home typing this out onto a little screen while my husband makes me dinner in our little home and soon my daughter will be carried through the door and she will cover us in kisses and say something incredible like “missed mommy” even though you know for a fact that no missing of mommies happens when she is at grandma’s house. Lamps are glowing and my heart is still and overflowing. I am sitting in that moment that I saw seven years ago.
I am home.