After the unexpected events, through which life shows us how unprepared we are, it was time to be homeward bound.
We departed in different directions.
The drive back seemed especially long on a warm summer afternoon, and my mind and body asked for one too many stops along the way. It was at the first stop that I realized how physically and mentally exhausted I felt, and how much I wished that home was right there.
As is often warranted in life, there is no choice but to keep going. And, keep going I did.
Soon came another stop, at a McDonald's, where I lingered on for more minutes than I would have in "normal" circumstances.
A guy in his mid-thirties walked in with his daughter, who was perhaps four or five years old. She looked angelic from where I was situated--physically and mentally. Her smiling face on a skinny frame and with long, straight, golden hair was way too comforting to look at. If she had walked up to me and said "hi," I suspect that tears would have automatically flowed down from my eyes.
Driving in silence was therapeutic. Daylight started to fade as the sun slowly descended. Up here in the latitudes, the setting sun lingers on for quite a while compared to how how the sun instantaneously sets in the near-equatorial India where I grew up. It is almost as if the sun listens to kids pleading for it to stay around so that they can continue playing and not go to bed.
As I got into the valley where home is, the vast openness provided a perfect backdrop for the final phase of the day. The brilliant hues on the western sky. Shades of red and pink and orange splashed about the clouds. I welcomed the forced slowing down in response to road work, because it gave me enough and more opportunities to safely turn my head to the right and admire the kaleidoscopic western sky.
It slowly sank in that I was not too far from home. That alone was enough to boost my sagging spirits. The feeling was immensely more than how I often feel when returning from visits abroad.
A home is not a man's castle but a safe haven. A security blanket. Terra firma.
The final couple of miles were into the west. The thought of home only minutes away along with the delight from watching the final moments of the beautiful red sky almost erased all the stresses.
Because, very little has changed other than me being home.