On my way to work this week, I listened to an interview with a woman who is involved in social services that are being offered to the hundreds of people displaced by the recent forest fires in California. At one juncture, she said something I couldn’t forget: “They just want to go home.”
That statement summed up the suffering that takes place when home doesn’t exist anymore. Home will likely exist again at some point, but only after months of arduous work. Most of us still have places we call home, and they are vastly different depending on our circumstances. But we all know what “home” means.
I took note as well of a statement made by President George W. Bush in his eulogy of his father during President George H.W. Bush’s memorial service at the National Cathedral. He said his father spent his last days on his back porch in Maine looking out at the magnificent Atlantic Ocean. In other words, he was home.
Although it’s difficult to transition from something as tragic as a catastrophic fire to travel, it isn’t difficult to transition from travel to our feelings about home. For most of us, they go hand in hand.
I’ve told countless friends and acquaintances that I always look forward to leaving on a major trip, and I always look forward to coming home. Travel to faraway places wouldn’t appeal much to most of us if we did not also look forward to coming home. Home in that sense is not only our favorite room in our familiar house, but also the United States, which remains, for all our differences, the single greatest country on earth.
Home and travel complement one another, and as travelers, I know you all join me in wishing the best for those who feel right now like home is a distant memory.
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