Where is your place?
Not the place you go to when you get in a car and drive to work or where you end up at the end of the day or where you wake up in the morning– but your place— where you go to feel like the fullest and the best version of yourself.
Does it feel like this:
like simultaneously wading and sprinting through mist?
Like a tree trunk-sized knot unwinding in your chest?
Like a total, visceral, body-releasing homecoming?
My place is here, at this bridge, next to the one mile marker.
Where I brush my fingers over the stones damp with springy moss, where I feel and see and hear the gusto of tiny waterfalls, where I smell the weird mix of Wissahickon water and dead leaves. Every time, the covered bridge feels like a homecoming– mile after mile, year after year.
I grew up splashing through the creek that winds under the bridge and tormenting ducks with stale breadcrumbs on the creek’s banks and sprinting up the trails hidden behind the bridge and hanging upside down from tree branches along its muddied-paths.
I’ve come here for–and after– everything.
I’ve come here for the calming sounds of the trees brushing their branches together, for the trails zig-zagging through the hillsides, for splitting secret beers under covered porches, for cross-country summer training, for hours-long conversations with friends, for shoddy attempts at snowshoeing.
I’ve come here after a teammate was killed in a hit-and-run accident, after I received college rejection letters, after anxiety crippled and plagued my mind, after my friends and I experienced break-ups and bad nights, after my brother was diagnosed with MS, after I thought the world was truly going to shit.
And I’ve left, every single time, feeling ok. Feeling like finally, finally! I have come home. In every kind of way.
I recently came across something that speaks to and resonates with this nature-based homecoming– way-back-when, author Hermann Hesse wrote:
A longing to wander tears my heart when I hear trees rustling in the wind at evening. If one listens to them silently for a long time, this longing reveals its kernel, its meaning. It is not so much a matter of escaping from one’s suffering, though it may seem to be so. It is a longing for home…for new metaphors for life. (The rustling trees) lead home. Every path, (every rustling tree), leads homeward.
And still, 26 years later, “coming home” means coming back to this bridge. Coming back to walk or run or bike through muddied gravel along the rustling creek and bendy trees. Seeing and listening and feeling how this place brings me back, brings me home.
Every. Single. Time.