Coming home

It was a sunny March day. The winter chill still hung in the air, but the first smells of spring were starting to peak out. Colors had begun to perk back up after a winter of brown and grey.

It was a familiar feeling.

That first step on the pavement. The wind at my back, the deep breaths of that sweet spring air.

The first run of spring.

Those of us that are lucky enough to know that “coming home” feeling, know just how special it is. To return to the place that nurtured you. Perhaps a childhood home, perhaps a place that helped you through immense growth, perhaps not a place at all.

Maybe home to you is a thing — a comfy chair that has stayed with you through many moves. Maybe it’s a person — a partner, a spouse, a family member or friend whose presence makes you feel at home.

I think “home” can be a feeling, too. A feeling of comfort and security. A feeling that wraps its arms around you and whispers “you are safe here.” A feeling you get when surrounded by old friends, or returning to your favorite summer vacation spot, or opening an old, well-read book.

“Home” is where you feel most you. Where you can return to time and again, no matter how much time goes between visits, and still feel like you belong, like you never really left.

I have many “homes”, if you will. People, places, things and feelings that I return to in times of stress, that I can count on to make me feel whole again. I am lucky to have two actual homes — the home I grew up in as well as the home I built for myself. These homes I am so, so grateful for.

But the thing about physical homes, is that they are not constant. They come and go. Feelings — those can be constant. Those can stick with you through your whole life.

If you knew me in high school, chances are you knew me as a runner. I was a year-round cross country and track athlete. I was by no means one of the best, but I loved it. It was my passion. Those three hour practices every day after school, they built me.

Running has always felt like home to me. Falling into that rhythmic step, finding that place of peace. Ever since I found my love for running at age 14, it’s always been there for me.

But sometimes, we lose sight of our home. Sometimes we must leave that home in order to grow and explore new parts of who we are. Sometimes we need to leave what is comfortable behind, in order to find something greater. A new piece of ourselves.

After nearly three years of not running, I recently felt the urge to get back out there. The last three years have been full of growth and discovery for me. I replaced running with new physical activities. I learned a lot about my strengths, my weaknesses, and how I can push myself to be better.

But this first run back was transformational. It was coming home. It was coming back to a part of myself I forgot was there.

Running, for me, is that coming home feeling that will never leave. No matter where I go in life, no matter who I become, I know I can always lace up some running shoes, take off down an open road and feel at home.

So I guess I’m writing this to say, no matter where life takes you, find those things that feel like home. Find those people, places, feelings that will welcome you back whenever you need them. Find the things that ground you.

And when you start to feel lost or confused or out of place, know that you can always come home again.

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