Wednesday, May 16, 2012


The summer before my freshman year in high school I had the incredible opportunity to spend a month backpacking through the High Uinta Wilderness area in Utah. It was a college run program and 30 of us braved August blizzards and extreme hiking in order to experience breathtaking views and a month that would define our  lives. We were divided into groups of 5 with the addition of a leader and co-leader for every group. Every 2 groups had a "mentor."  2 groups entered the mountain range from the south, and 2 from the north. After 2 weeks of hiking, orienteering, and a steep learning curve, groups rendezvoused at a previously agreed upon location for "re-supply." Here our food supplies were supplemented as was our need for a wider social circle. We spent the week-end having cook-offs, laughing, singing around camp-fires and living it up before the really challenging part of the month began.

My shrinking family of 6  just returned from a week of what feels like family "re-supply." The prompt was, of course, Miss.R's college graduation. Over the course of the last week we've seen parents, grandparents, cousins, uncles and aunts. We've gone through significant losses in the past couple of years; maybe that's why we cherish the time- as few as those times are, due to distance and circumstances and life-  that we are together with our extended family.

On the way out of town, and out of state and out of region, we stopped by to see my uncle, my Dad's younger brother. I make sense to myself in context of my family. They are tall, big-boned, laugh out loud, are conservative, opinionated, funny and kind. It's a relief to know my people, to belong to them, to have a tribe. We've lived so long away that I sometimes forget I belong. One of the costs of moving from region to region.

Driving back, to a different town, a different state, a different region, I steel myself for disconnect. The part where we live without the extension of family- the gifts of family- not just the stuff that is shared (you know who you are LB!) but the gifts of time and living together, sharing the victories (like graduations) but also the ordinary everyday, like breakfast and soccer games.

We are "home" now- and it's good. There is no place like home. But my heart is divided because home is not just a place, no matter how comfy or grand, but it's where your people are, it's where they live, it's the sense of community and acceptance just cause you are part of a tribe. And by that definition we are far from home. And everyone felt the distance today. It will fade, that feeling of home-sickness, it won't be quite so bitter, but it will still twinge every now and then.

All of the laughs and love and friendship and joy shared this week have re-supplied us for the next haul of the journey. We've reconnected with our people, laughed together till our faces hurt, eaten way too much cheese (certain branches of the family believe it's a food group unto itself) and caught up on what every one's doing and where everyone is at. And it's good. We're full up. Enough to go another round.

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