An extended Easter weekend called for a trip to the river.
I’ve been going to the river for my whole life. It’s where Grandmother’s house sits — where I used to catch lightning bugs in jars and pick blueberries for pancakes. It’s where I fell in love with mornings as a ten year old watching the fish jumping after sunrise.
I’m also pretty sure the clocks run just a little bit slower there than they do in the city. When my Dad moved to the river our trips there became more frequent. It’s funny how growing up I never thought of the river as home. But now that we’ve long since moved from my childhood home and I’ve gone off to college, I’m seeing how the river has been part of home this whole time.
But what makes a place home isn’t the place itself. It’s the people. Out of six houses on the river row, my family inhabits four. When we’re all visiting, dinner looks like grilling out during a very happy hour that merges into sunset. Twilight means it’s time to light the candles and gather around the table together. Stories are shared and dishes are passed. Dinner is followed by a pool tournament in the man cave over Dad’s garage.
But the best part of it all isn’t the food and the drinks. And that’s saying a lot, because Grandmother’s ranch dressing is somehow perfectly creamy and tossable at the same time. And Dad really know how to grill.
The best part is the joy written all over their faces and planted deep into their brown eyes. Grandmother and Dad live quietly and simply, but when the family is gathered around our table, they radiate happiness. Even when Ansel refuses to put on a shirt and Addison only eats the bread and I have to light all the candles in the house because ambiance.
The river isn’t home because it’s beautiful. It isn’t even home because I keep coming back.
It is home because of what’s deep inside the windows of the eyes of the people who gather there. Some of those eyes are soft brown and knowing and some are dark and sparkling. A few are brilliant blue oceans. But the souls behind all of those eyes are home.