Running Home

P1010699The mountains are closing in today.

On a clear day, just after a drop in temperature, they open up as endless as your life seems in childhood. On a day like this, when clouds display a full arsenal of grays, when rain is announced every few minutes, the mountains seem closer.  Too close.  They press against you, crush you, lock you in. You begin to understand the danger of the Alps. Ominous is a word created for that brief silence before the storm breaks.

So you start running. Mud, pebbles, asphalt: the terrain varies and so do your steps. What you cannot get used to is the running between borders.  After a lifetime of being punished for your nationality, of not being allowed in or out of countries, it is such a thrill to be able to weave your way in and out of France and Switzerland. A grey, moss-covered border stone dating from the 1870s is your only witness.

You moved to the area unwillingly the first time round. You had to give up a good job, family and friends, a good-sized house in the process of being slowly renovated, the language of your comfort. The children were fully dependent on you that first time, each day was a struggle with unfamiliarity. You couldn’t wait to get back ‘home’.

MountainsBut home had moved on, as had you. You found yourself struggling to fit in. You were still the alien, perhaps even more so with your new-found love for croissants and small coffees. You missed the extreme landscapes, the seasons. You remembered breathing in air so fresh that it rushed straight to your lungs in unadulterated delight.

Life has a way of playing with your emotions. Just when you are settled in again, when you have arranged your memories in a neatly labelled box to be put up in the attic, it is time to resurrect them.  You are going back to the space on the border for a second time. But this time it’s all different again. The children are older, your French is better. You continue working, but you are determined to make each minute in this wonderful location count. You are not going to leave this area again, regretting all that you didn’t do and see.

Home is a word you have bandied about far too often in your existence. You’ve believed you were at home in many places, with many people, but have you ever fully understood it? 

GrapesCould this be home now? You hardly dare to hope.

Yet there is a lilt in your peasant soul as you run through the fields, worrying about the harvest. 

The peaks and valleys, now green and pleasant, now eerily bare, mirror your own innerscapes. You surprise yourself with the sudden onset of storms, but you recognise a twin spirit.

If you weren’t so marked by years of taunting, you might almost think you are communing with nature.

Whether this is home or not, this is the best of you. Use this time wisely. Write it all down.

11 thoughts on “Running Home”

  1. Marina Sofia – What a powerful piece! Among other things, it really speaks to the way we can feel like strangers in a strange land, as Heinlein put it, and gradually start to acclimate just a little. And yet, there’s a part of us I think that is always marked with our early memories of what we used to think of as home.

    1. I often ask myself: what makes home? Is it the landscape, the people, the language? A combination of everything? Admiration or familiarity? I suppose there are as many answers as there are people.

  2. Marina, I can really resonate with this. I haven’t crossed a country border to live, but I have crossed several state borders here in the States. We have been in our present state for two years, and we are finally starting to feel at home. Nice job!

  3. I never had a sense of home until I moved elsewhere. Then I realised how rooted I was in my birthplace. It wasn’t the people – I still saw and spoke to them regularly – it was the place and perhaps the culture. The day I came back, years later, was truly one of the happiest of my life.

    A lovely piece – thank you!

  4. A thoughtful and lovely post, thank you. I only felt I had my first real home, a safe place, about seven years ago. Before that I had many different ‘homes’ but none of these places felt solid and happy and safe. It’s wonderful to feel that I have a good home now.

    1. I’m glad you finally found a place to call home. Some people never do. Or lose theirs. I was amazed at how strongly my son reacted to the Red Cross Museum in Geneva – he said he hoped he would never lose his home and family like those children he saw featured there.

  5. oh i like this…and i think when we get to a new place first it is tough – esp. if we don’t speak the language but then we somehow grow roots without even realizing… nice..

Do share your thoughts!

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.