These simple words, surprisingly refreshing and unexpectedly welcoming, awakened a powerful emotion inside of me after being out of the country for a few days. Nothing feels like being home again.
“Than you,” I said, pausing to make contact with the uniformed man at the US Customs checkpoint. “Good to be home.”
We don’t seem to think too much about traveling outside the United States in today’s world. Every place is like home – only different, we tell ourselves. Along dusty roads we see familiar Chevrolet tags on cars and trucks, we recognize the Golden Arches sandwiched between buildings, and Coca-Cola is listed on every menu.
But in the end, regardless of the familiarity around us, we are not home.
Home is a powerfully emotive word – something we are gravitationally pulled towards. Even if we don’t know we have a void, the warmth of feeling comforts us like a blanket. Sometimes all we need is to be home.
Traveling abroad always reminds me of why I love America as I do. Yes, we’ve our issues, our problems, our disagreements, but in the end, this is my home. And nothing feels as wonderful as coming home.
This past week I spent time in someone else’s home. The people of Mexico are gracious, kind, and share the same hopes and dreams we all do for our families. In a small fishing community off along the southernmost Baja California Peninsula, the men who worked our rented fishing boats got up early to prepare for the day. At makeshift dockside tables, women assembled sandwiches and placed fresh fruit and crackers in plastic bags for fishermen to eat while on the water. And when the fishing went soft, our crew kept the boat on the water for a few extra hours in hopes of bringing back a larger catch. Their reputation mattered.
But I also walked by a diamond jewelry store where few steps later I found a woman breastfeeding her infant child while calling out for me to come to look at the brightly painted dishes she hoped to sell. And to wander too far from the illumination of neon and commercial signage, a sense of uneasiness would creep into your being.
Again, like home – only different.
As a friend once said to me, a majority of the world’s citizens care about 99% of the same things: a roof over their head, food on the table, and an opportunity to provide for their family. The other 1% are dedicated to man-made concepts such as politics, borders, and money.
The more I travel, the more I believe he is right. Citizens of the world do generally hold the same wants, needs, and desires to make friends, help others, and share their experiences. I see it in those I meet, the ones who want to communicate, share, and give without receiving. Mankind is a beautiful thing.
But in the end, there is no place like home. Home is where my heart resides, my soul lives, and my spirit runs free.