It's funny because I have this distinct memory of how I felt driving past the familiar places that meant we were almost home when I was younger - what the exit looked like lined with endless green trees, "McDonald's park," the turn to get on our street, the sloping hill to our cul-de-sac - I still remember what it felt like to drive past those spots. Feelings of safety, rightness, and joy still come to mind. Nothing going on in the world mattered because when I saw those sights, I was home.
The freeway exit we live off of now is nothing special; its kind of ugly to be honest. Too many weeds, too much traffic, and not enough *green.* the businesses that surround it are unattractive and the whole surrounding has the feeling of "we are here to make money, not to look good" to it. But every time we get off the exit, or come around the bend to go under the over pass, Carsen yells out "we home!!" And tonight it hit me that these are "the spots" in his memory. It doesn't even register to him that it's ugly, because all of it means he is safe, we are together, and all is right in the world. It means he is still young enough that Mom and Dad can make everything better, and all we have to do is get close to our house and familiarity washes over him. It means home is still something sacred. And in today's world, I consider being able to give my kids that assurance an incredible gift I will never take for granted.