"Coming home" can mean different things to different people. If I interviewed 100 people and asked them to tell me what coming home means to them, I'd get 100 different answers. For one person, coming home is about returning to a hometown they haven't been back to since high school graduation and reuniting with old classmates. To another, coming home involves stepping off a plane and on to American soil for the first time in 18 months after a deployment to Iraq or Afghanistan. To others, coming home is more figurative and is symbolized by turning away from a destructive lifestyle and embracing a fresh start in life surrounded by a support group of family and friends who love you despite your past.
I had a "coming home" experience on Monday as Mike and I were flying into Cassville after a short time away. We arrived from the south and began our descent into Cassville by flying over the Mark Twain National Forest that surrounds Table Rock Lake and Roaring River State Park. After flying over more arid country, it was a nice treat for my eyes to see the lush green of the Ozarks dotted with the bright purple blooms of the redbud trees that signal the arrival of spring.
As we got closer to Cassville, I could begin picking out farms and homes of people we knew. There was the navy blue silo that marked the old Edmondson dairy farm, the pond behind the Couches home and business and the Barry Electric substation that signals "it's all downhill from here" when we pass by it during the home stretch of our bike riding loop from Cassville to Washburn Prairie and back.
As we circled the airport for the final approach, we passed over the school and the fields where my boys played so many games in their black and gold. I also followed the Greenway Trail with my eyes from Rocky Edmondson Park to the city's Aquatic Center and thought of all the miles I have jogged along Flat Creek over the years. I also picked out the YMCA building, the newspaper office and the car wash - places where I enjoy spending time. As we landed, I felt like we'd come home again and I was grateful for the time we've spent living in a small town filled with people and places I love and memories that I'll always cherish. As much as I love my hometown of St. Louis, nothing can compare to returning to the town where Mike and I chose to start our family and raise our sons. Cassville's been good to us, and somehow flying over the city on Monday, reminded me of that.