For most of my adult life, I have been able to fit my belongings into two suitcases. What I couldn’t was left behind, and that sometimes included people. You can’t comfortably run from life if you’re bogged down with luggage. Maybe that’s why I was never much of a runner.
From the moment I came home from the hospital, I knew only one house, one set of friends, one city—Huntington Beach, Calif.—and yet I never felt “at home” there. Home is a strange concept that, as a kid and young adult, feels like a physical space, or so they tell me: the house or place that we grow up in. Adulthood, however, transforms this notion into a state of mind.
When I was 14 years old, I started to know other cities, houses, sets of friends. During the next 20 years, I moved at least once a year, sometimes twice and a few times three, running from city to city looking for “home.” That’s why I lived light. These places never felt like home, and I spent more time planning my next jaunt rather than enjoying the current journey. Running became cumbersome, despite the light load.
Strangely enough, I took up running as a diversion—a particularly odd choice given how unsuccessful “running home” had been for me. We weren’t acquainted long when my hobby began to cause me literal misery and pain: plantar fasciitis and IT band problems. I quit and then moved, and moved.
I didn’t plan to move to Western Montana. The plan was to stay with my dad for three months and then go somewhere better. The last best place was, in my mind, the first worst place. Then, something incredible happened in those three months: The peace I’d been moving all over the world for found its way into my heart. I stopped planning my escape and started planning my weekend.
I recently started running again, and it feels good. I must be home.