This word, “home” – it leaves a bitter, foreign taste in my mouth. It is at the same time familiar and strange. Holidays are coming, and that leaves me with a choice – to go home or not to go home. Am I leaving Home, or going Home? Was home that last place I paid rent, or this next place I’m hunting for a paycheck and 4 white walls?
My father was in the Armed Forces. We traveled a lot. A Lot. For K-12 education I went to 7 different schools. I spent a lot of my youth doing bad things for worse, or at least nominally impotent reasons. At some point it’s not enough. School? Yeah I did well. Friends? Yeah, but here’s the rub – you meet people, you try to connect, but in the back of your head you know that you shouldn’t, you can’t. You’re gonna leave, eventually.
I’ve been fortunate. I’ve met a lot of great people. They just don’t always stick. This isn’t going to be a popular notion, coming from me. There’s one of this guy and that girl in every town. Varying degrees but essentially the same. Don’t mistake – there are diamonds in the rough out there too. I’ve got great friends that I’ll always make the effort to stay in touch with. Across this great nation. In other countries too. We’ll come back to this, but I want this downside to sink in first.
I’m just a jaded man approaching middle age, still missing a lot things I thought would just come along with living life. But this isn’t the purpose of what I’m writing here. I started us here with a simple word: Home. Turns out it’s not such a loaded word, not so elusive. I’ve found home on two wheels. In the dirt. It doesn’t matter where I go, what the conditions are, the trail is familiar. This state or the next, here or across one of the big ponds. The sound of the bike, gears turning, dirt giving way to the tire’s bite. Mobbing through rock gardens. That feeling, it’s home. Duff or lava cap, full suspension, hardtail, rigid. It’s just you and the trail. I can feel at home anywhere I can put my two wheels in the dirt.
I’ve met the best people on the trails and in the culture surrounding mountain bikes, and I have the kind of relationship with these people that dovetails nicely with my view of the world. If I find myself gone from where I am now, when I come back to visit, those same great people, defying the categorization of paragraphs past, will just want to get out on the trail with me and hang out “back home”. The same exists for those places I’ve already left, and will visit again soon.