Home and town. Words that resonate, that reverberate. That have occupied a might amount of my reflection space, my mulling and wandering and trying to settle into certainty. Homes ? There have been many and towns quite a few. Three years into my last state, of mind, of residence, it began to feel like a place I belonged, and hitting my fifth in my current state, I've begun to own it and it to own me. The first couple of years I often wondered, when does this town start to feel like home? I make towns my own by walking them.
The last place, mid-Michigan and I'm divorcing and managing a mortgage on my own and I can't be paying for parking and don't have the change for the bus, so I put on old Doc Marten's and took to my feet and began to mark the turns and trees and odd traces of history and beauty, and the places I'd stretch my few dollars a day into lunch and coffee and comfort. Later, salary secure and new ring on my finger and a baby in my belly, I walked the town because I was under doctor's orders not to run it and learned new paths and river views and places to stop for bagels to bring home. Then I walked it to walk off the weight of that baby, sometimes with the baby bearing his own weight and strapped to me, sometimes with the much loved and now dead dog trailing at my heels, alert to any chance to slip his collar and exercise his great free range spirit love of the run for the run's sake. Later still, too broken to drive, I walked my way back to life, safe on the roads of what was certainly a home town.
But the town I grew up in was a walking town too, and my friends occupied all its corners, and we walked miles from house to house and along shallow creeks and along railroad tracks, because it was the kind of town it was safe for teenage girls to do that kind of thing while we talked about books and dreams and boys, real and imagined and whether we should buy donuts. It was good kind of town to call home. I call a different town home now, also a town where I've found my feet and put them on the road. Five years and now I know when to look for the best sunsets and where to look for the best bread and why there's a kind of beauty the prairie calls its own and where the tulips will first being to emerge and where the cutest dogs lurk behind fences.