I have a pretty good memory for even the smallest details. So my memories of my childhood and growing up are pretty vivid. I remember at a very young age rifling through my parents' cassette tape collection and playing so many musical treasures on their then-state of the art tape deck, throwing on a sparkly tutu (or way too tight leotard) and ballet shoes and creating dances with my sister. There were so many songs ... ABBA, Diana Ross, the Beatles, the Beach Boys, Olivia Newton John, Kenny Rogers (I am really not doing any favors to my parents right now, but this music was/is amazing). But the song that most quickly brings me back to my childhood and to a real, palpable feeling, is John Denver's "Country Roads." I remember playing it, laying on the couch with my legs propped up on the couch back and staring at an old oil painting we had hanging over the couch. This one:
I have no idea where or when my parents got that painting, but if there's one thing that reminds me of home, it's that. I remember staring up at it, while listening to "Country Roads" and just daydreaming about the words and letting myself sink into that painting and the dirt roads and the house in the back and into the song itself and the country he was singing about (nevermind that I thought he said "mountain llama" instead of "mountain momma").
But this one always got me, and to this day sticks with me:
Country roads, take me home
To the place I belong
I took those words to heart and very literally in 2012-2013 when I was newly on my own and felt like I had no real home. So I went back home - to the place I was born and the place I belonged -- where my parents still lived and my grandmothers and most of my family. There was no greater comfort than home. My folks would watch my kids and I'd go for runs, endless runs for endless miles, on those country roads.
Fields and flowers. Pickup trucks and creeks. Puffy clouds and old barely-standing barns. Trees and windy roads and creaky bridges. Every run I would head out on my way and feel so much more centered when I came back. I can't imagine that any other place in the world would have given me that clarity and grounding than the place where I was from ... those country roads at home.
By running at home -- the place where I belonged -- I felt more me and more able to handle whatever this new life of mine had in store. It was terrifying. But I was grounded and centered. And even as I felt ever more confident and more settled in my new life, I would still return home as much as I could and run those familiar roads and see my family and those familiar places ... home was home was home and always would be and always will be.
I have a new home now with a wonderful husband and my wonderful children and my wonderful step-children. My heart (and my home) is full. Life is good. I found the love of my life and happiness greater than I dreamed possible. As it turns out, those country roads did lead me right home ... to the place I belong.
You took me home, country roads.