Maybe this is the story of my life.
Maybe it's the story of the salmon.
Maybe it's both.
I say I've lived in this magical place my whole life.
A place where the snowy mountains meet the sea.
Where the trees create a landscape so green and so thick it's hard to see past it.
To be honest, growing up, I wanted nothing more than to leave.
At the time, this place felt too small for the gigantic dreams I wanted to fill. I felt suffocated and trapped.
As a young adult, I only saw what this place couldn't offer and none of what it could.
I saw it's downfalls and little potential.
Mostly, I think my body had changed and so had my heart.
I was no longer that little fry that needed the protection offered by the stream.
I was ready to explore.
I first tried the luscious views of Upstate New York. I landed as the golden deciduous trees were dropping their leaves.
Almost as far away from this home as possible, I was eager to adventure.
I wanted to see who I was away from everything I had known.
I was ready to test my crazy thoughts and theories on the unsuspecting world.
New York was beautiful.
This is really where I fell in love with hiking.
I tasted it all.
And for a moment I felt happy.
I was happy.
The space, that's what I needed at the time.
A new adult in a massive ocean.
I left the Atlantic, only a few years later to find myself again in the North Pacific,
but this time in Alaska.
A place as gorgeous, if not more than home.
The land full of texture and color.
Spewing life from every pore.
I saw majestic white belugas dancing their way through the Cook Inlet.
I played on ice cold blue glaciers.
And to this day I will tell you that I long to go back to where the spit extends a mile from the land. Narrow as ever, just enough land to call it a place.
Saltwater surrounding you, but where it misses, the gap is filled in by snow capped peaks.
Halibut a story tall, hung up and ready for eating.
Homer, AK is in my heart.
But all these sights I've seen.
Places I've lived.
Memories I've made.
They were never home.
The moment I leave this place, the Pacific Northwest, and step out on a new land, may it be long term or even for a short trip, I immediately feel called home.
My body feels unsettled, almost visibly shaky.
Something is out of place,
I am out of place.
My mind often wanders, and I find it thinking about home.
I guess that's how I know.
Funny how understanding works sometimes, learning by trial and error.
You spend your whole life experiencing where you don't belong, only to realize all you needed you had all along.
Where you started.
Where it all began.
And so, like a spawning salmon answering a call from within.
Not a conscious thought, but rather something deeper.
A story written on their DNA. Bound to happen because of who they are.
Just like the chum, returning to the stream to spawn, I return home.
And when my feet are firmly planted on this ground, gone away is the restlessness.
In it's place a calming sense of peace.
A huge weight lifted off my shoulders.
Home brings an overwhelming sense of belonging.
And now, when I look up and see that glorious mountain peeking over the horizon, I believe it's mine.
And in return, I am it's.
We belong together.
The same for my ocean.
The same for my home.
These pieces were dreamt up while I was away.
They were sketched and the ideas solidified while I was on a plane soaring towards home.
They were forged right where I belong.
An understanding of exploration.
A gift of belonging.
A celebration of home.