GV Malawi 2015

In Defense of Leaving Home

Growing up in a blue-collar middle class family in western Pennsylvania, leaving home meant visiting my grandparents who lived about a 20-minute car ride away.   Their small urban home was my favorite place to be and it felt different enough from my brand spanking new split-level suburban house to satiate my desire to travel.  Leaving home doesn’t necessitate an aircraft or even a set of wheels.  For some of us it’s a hike into the woods that reminds us of the value of switching gears.

As a teenager leaving home meant a couple weeks in the summer volunteering with my church youth group in the rural hollows of Kentucky.  It was there that I felt the joy of serving on a team and learned the excitement of creating community.  Leaving home as a teen also was traveling during spring break with the high school marching band to compete.  We drove for hours or days to Myrtle Beach, New York City and Orlando on buses!  All 300 of us.  And we loved it.

I first boarded an airplane not until I was age 18.  It was my senior graduation trip with three of my best friends.  Looking back, I ask myself was I too young to venture out on my own like that?  Would I be happy for my kids to do the same?  I don’t know yet.  What I do know is this – leaving home has had a tremendous impact on my life and I am all the richer for it.  Travel has taught me the value in keeping my eyes, and my heart, open.  Now, having traveled far and wide, when I hear the call of the great unknown, I long to touch it.  And I want to take others along for the ride.

This is why I build.

“Because if you never leave home, never let go, you’ll never make it to the great unknown.  Keep your eyes open my love.”

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