Open TicketGoing Home For The Holidays Is Like Time TravelStephanie Spitler

Some people hear the word travel and instantly picture grand journeys involving around-the-world airline tickets and vintage steamer trunks. They think traveling is something only the very rich, or very irresponsible, have the money and time to do. But as I drove across 2 states to go home for Thanksgiving this past week, I realized that travel can be so much simpler than that.

Travel can be going home, going down the block, or just getting outside after a long illness. It doesn’t matter how far you are from your front door; what matters is if you’re changed by your surroundings, if you’re rejuvenated by the air you’re breathing and if you can appreciate the new perspectives you’ve gained.

Heading home for the holidays gives me a very different feeling than boarding a plane to an unknown vacation destination. I’m going somewhere the opposite of new; it’s place I know (or knew) so well. But that doesn’t mean I can’t have a different perspective on it, or see it in a new light. It’s all in how you choose to approach it. So this year, I tried to look with fresh eyes at the place I spent 18 years of my life. My new view of home was informed by all of the experiences I’ve had and places I’ve seen since I left.

I found a quote by Terry Pratchett that explains this perfectly:

“Why do you go away? So that you can come back. So that you can see the place you came from with new eyes and extra colors. And the people there see you differently, too. Coming back to where you started is not the same as never leaving.”

It’s funny how much can change in a short time. In just a year, new shopping centers have been built and old landmarks have disappeared. Dirt roads get paved, neighbors move and high school friends welcome new babies. Even though I know all these things are happening, and people and places are always evolving and changing, I somehow expect things there, at home, to stay the same. Even though I’ve moved away and moved on, no longer concerned about things like high school football games and dances and who’s-dating-so-and-so-this-week, the minute I step back into my old bedroom, all those memories come flooding back. My perspective shifts back into high school mode, just for a moment.

Sometimes its good to feel 18 again, but mostly it’s nice to be able to look back at that time as it fades into the background, a little farther away each year. It’s taken me a while to feel that way, to recognize that when I go home, I’m not instantly regressing into pre-college mode. Especially this year, surrounded by toddlers and high school reunions, the past and future were present in a way I’d never felt before. Sometimes travel means hopping in the car and driving back through time, visiting favorite places from your past. And sometimes travel means turning back around and facing forward, looking ahead to a future that can take us anywhere.

How do you feel when you head home for the holidays?

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