Home Sweet home

US flag flaps in the breeze
Forest Service Ranger Station somewhere in the Colorado mountains, a US flag flaps in the wind.

Every year, for at least a brief while, I travel back home to visit family and friends.

It is always so surreal flying halfway around the globe, spending 15+ hrs of travel time, and getting over an immense case of jet lag, only to find myself immediately at ease and back in the Grove of my old life.

But it is not so simple.

When I am back in Colorado, I realize how much I miss it.

Of course, when living abroad, it is always the case that you find yourself missing home. But after a while, though, no matter where you find yourself, eventually your new home becomes familiar and you slowly settle into the new routine.

But when coming back home, it always hits you.

When living abroad, the moments of home sickness and thoughts of missing out on life back home can be blocked out and compartmentalized. It is almost like a company balance sheet – you see the KPIs, you know you are working on improving things, but it is not something you can take action on immediately. In a way, it feels similar to paying off debt.

My big bro, dancing a dry fly over the top of deadwood – the Brookies were hungry this day. Fishing with him on my visits back home are what make these trips.

It is perfectly normal to check your debts; checking your account(s) regularly to see how much you owe and knowing you will eventually have to pay it off. But you tell yourself, it is ok, I will deal with it in the future, I can put this off a little longer and it doesn’t have a dramatic effect on you in the moment. Put simply – you know you will eventually have to pay the bills, but not now.

But when you step off the plane, smell the airport air, see the familiar landscapes, hit that highway section you spent half your life traveling on, and make that left turn off the main boulevard onto your street – the debt becomes real. Payment is due.

The severity of being away cuts deep like a knife. The familiar voices and twang of American English, friendly faces, and the madness of America overwhelm, convince, reframe, and ellicit familiar feelings. But it also hurts. For you have been gone. You have been away. You no longer live here. While you will always be from here – you no longer exist here. And that is the part that cuts you. The missed trips, missed life events, and time not spent together leave an invisible wound.

You feel as though you are a spectator to your old life. You chose this path, so you must accept responsibility for your actions. But still, it always feels bitter sweet to be back on your old stomping grounds and feeling like you have missed out.

Pondering life and the complex interconnected web of cause and effect, butterfly-effect flapping, decision tree meandering choices leave one’s soul in a suspended state. It is in that moment that you need to get grounded; plant both feet; and most pererrably; plant both feet in water.

My dad sneaking up on some high country fish.

As the excitement of coming home is quickly stunted with the payment forced due, for me, the best reset and recharge comes with gearing up and setting off on a fly fishing adventure.

I gotta say, growing up in Colorado and only leaving just a couple years ago, the amount of change and growth of this place is honestly – well kinda sad. I don’t know if it is because I am no longer attached on a day to day basis, but seeing so much growth, development, and overall crowding of my once best-kept-secret state is gut-wrenching. It is almost like economic growth comes at the cost of the complete destruction of a place – well, almost.

You see, I am sure the same feelings exist for the local overseas community that I now call home. The circle is complete. But enough of this endless contemplation.

Gear bag packed. Fly rods rigged. Coffee in hand. Google maps on standby. I start the rental whip, and it purrs to life. Pointed west, I drive. Like a trip literally back into time, each mile of road under the tires rumbled, brings back fond memories of a childhood, a previous life, in a much different place.

I don’t know if I have changed or if this place has changed. Most likely both. But as I near my final destination, one thing is for certain. The anticipation and excitement level of a day spent on the river has not changed – I am jacked.

Parked. Engine off. The doors shut, and the roar of the river revives my mind. The blue sky and looming Rocky Mountain peaks strike deep within my soul. Fly rod in hand, I step off down the trail towards the slithering abyss. For I am home, sweet home.

Streamside photo with the fishing crew.

2 thoughts on “Home Sweet home

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