Finally home


Paige Harsevoort

Me at my old magic spot—overwhelmed by emotion—from when I went to Goodwillie.

Lately, life’s been eerily similar to the speed that my mom and I had to drive with our hazards on when the gears wouldn’t shift in our car. While I would’ve expected 55 miles per hour, it seemed pushed to the limit at a mere 35. 

Yet, somehow in the slow-motion I observed, I felt like I was tumbling through a never-ending black hole. There has been nothing to catch a grip on and hold myself still. 

But, this last week I felt my first breath of fresh air. I was walking through the halls before school and looked up to see that the time was 7:34. This time has been the one thing reminding me to keep going since seventh grade. I used to walk into school every day at that exact time. Last year, I used to pull into the parking lot at that time. It was even my locker number in seventh grade. 

We went to where our roots grew entwined for our branches to always overlap.

The air felt crisper and cleaner the second I saw the time. Never in my life have I ever felt the sensation of a breath of fresh air when nothing in the atmosphere has changed. I felt like I was on the right path with my decisions, despite second-guessing myself all the time. 

I was transported to a moss-covered, leaning tree in the woods that was definitely a safety hazard for me as a ten-year-old. I closed my eyes and I could see the mayapple flowers covering the ground. I could hear the Pileated Woodpecker tapping on the oaks. 

Thirty seconds of my morning reminded me of how it felt to be at ease in my happy place.

So I went back—not just in my mind this time.

I jumped in my friend Paige’s little blue car–so affectionately called Blueberry–and we went “home.” We went to where our roots grew entwined and our branches always overlapped. We went to the classroom where our little hands learned little dances and little lines and our little lives connected. 

And I was breathing.

We crunched through the floor of dead leaves on the trail we knew all too well. I ran down the steep hill leading to my “magic spot,” forcing Paige to yell at me to stop because she couldn’t run after her semi-recent surgery. 

So I slowed down.

I took in every crunch of the leaves and every thorn dragging along my jeans. I felt every hitch of my breath and every increase in the lump in my throat because I was about to cry from finally feeling how life should be. I looked at every tree as I sat on the leaning one that I hadn’t been on since April of 2018. I took every blink as a moment to picture the girls that sat near me at their own magic spots. I felt every wrinkle of the lonesome two branches on my leaning tree. I let every gust of wind brush my cheeks and ruffle my hair with welcome arms.

Oh, how I needed that breath of fresh air.