Our house is in what feels like the middle of nowhere. It isn’t really, at all, certainly not by American, Canadian or Australian standards. We are 10 minutes from the nearest town, 10 minutes from the beach. 30 minutes into the closest city and 30 minutes commute to school.
There’s nothing like the journey home, wherever you live, that moment in the car or bus, walking on the streets, when you know you have the optimum amount of time left before you reach home. I would say about 7 and a half minutes from home. Those 7 and a half minutes give you time to relish the thoughts of your home comforts, your kitchen, fridge, sofa, tv, bed or toilet (because sometimes the first thing you just have to do when you get home is pee).
Those 7 and a half minutes allow you to process away all the bad things of the day and condense them all into one funny story that you want to share with your family. The minutes give you time to think about seeing your family again, awake or asleep and to give thanks that you have a family and a home waiting for you. Shelter, comfort, safety, family...they all appeal to our basic human instinct, to live, love freely and enjoy.
As I drive home there’s a long stretch of straight road as I hit those last 7 and a half minutes and it always feels like I’m getting ready for a great party. Sometimes it’s a mad riotous party, sometimes a quiet one with friends and sometimes a solitary one. If my children are at home, the minutes are my last moments of peace before I hit the house and the business of food preparation, cleaning, ironing, playing, reading stories and gardening that characterise our family life.
As I’m now working part time, those minutes are either a little respite (before getting home to unload shopping and start cooking)or the tantalising moments of doing stuff (out and about doing chores) before hitting the peace of home.
There’s something about the long straight road home and that magic seven and a half minutes that sometimes promotes a meditative quality. I remember bizarre things and wonderful memories and more than once I’ve found myself crying in the car because of old sorrows. I mourn for my mother, who has dementia and doesn’t know who I am anymore. I mourn for Antony, who died too early. I mourn for my own life, which is transitory. I watch the trees go by and the houses and think that it will all still be here when I am long gone.
Not every journey has such emotional weight; sometimes I dream about what I would do if I won the lottery, or I plan my garden, my evening meal, my son’s birthday, how to help my daughter cope with the myriad of changes in her life, my lessons at school the next day.
Sometimes I just enjoy the view.
Sometimes I live the journey and sometimes the journey passes me by and sometimes the journey enlivens me.
I travel those seven and a half magic minutes and soon enough they’re are finished and I am home again, to a house I love and a garden that we’re making. To a life that is sweet with sunny possibilities.