I've often heard ' Home is where the heart is' and I immediately roll my eyes. My perspective has radically changed from the past few weekends. Most notably this past weekend, which proved to me, home is anywhere your true heart lies.
Let me set the scene, It's 10:00 PM in the middle of no-where Washington Pa, with a truck filled driveway and a party occurring in the garage, the temperature is perfect for a night in the country. The reason for the get-together is a little more somber and we all do our best to not discuss it, our friend, whom we've known for 15 years or so was celebrating his last night in his hometown, before reporting for duty in North Carolina. We were all preparing for his second tour of duty. It was a chance for all of us to catch up and recall some of the best memories and send him off the only way we knew how. We enjoyed the food, the adult beverages, the stories, and most of all the comfort of good friends.
It's funny, how some words have lost meaning over the years. One in particular is "friend." It seems now a days we refer to everyone as a friend. These boys, or men as they are now, are the true definition of friends. It seems that, no matter what happens within the group, they find a way to heal the wounds, to recognize that the friendship is more important than the scuffle. We've gone through some of life's worst curveball by offering an ear to listen, a drink to forget, or just a good time to laugh again.These offerings have been selfless, without the thought of personal gain. The definition of true friends.
As we joked and laughed and shot a potato gun, it was looking to be a pretty good night. Then a few songs were played that brought everyone together. One of our standards is 'Family Tradition' and if you are unaware of the "country version" then you need to visit your local country bar and learn the “missing” lyrics. This song is typically played and everyone sings their hearts out. It is always a memory maker for us. However, this night in particular, a special song was played that probably had more meaning than we realized at the time. Travis Tritt's "It's a Great To Be Alive." As we gathered around, everyone got in a circle, arms around each other, singing our hearts out with all the emotion we had because this night, the song meant a little more.
'It's a great day to be alive, I know the sun's still shining when I close my eyes, There's some hard times in the neighborhood. Why can't everyday be just this good.'
As the song went continued on, the meaning became clearer to us the lyrics ‘Why can’t everyday be just this good’ radiated with each and everyone of us, the song had become a little more personable. In the musical interlude, if you will, a chant of ‘USA’ had begun. It was truly a special night. All of us together. It felt like home. That was the moment when I realized, life isn't about the place you grow up, but about the people that guide you along the way. Those people no matter what happens in life, you will never forget for they have shaped you in ways you could not begin to explain.
As I said "See you later" to my friend, I fought back the tears, as I did not want him to be witness to my sadness. As i drove from his house to mine, which I have made dozens upon dozens of times, it was a different ride. Through the tears I realized it wasn't the adolescent, the lack of a real job and responsibilities that I had grown to miss. It was the family, as dysfunctional as it might be at times, that I had missed. Spending my nights with the people I could never imagine living without doing absolutely nothing and having the most incredible time. I have truly been blessed with amazing individuals in my life. As I look at one of the pictures of all of us, I cannot help but smile as I've been able to witness these boys become men. These men who have helped me learn what the true meaning of 'home' and 'friend' is all about it.
Maybe this is what we are supposed to learn as we grow up. To learn to surround ourselves with the people who let our heart feel like we are home when surrounded by them. To spend time with the people that do not have a reason to be your friend other than, they just want to be. The ones that, you can truly be yourself around and that is good enough. Maybe this is what life is supposed to be about. Maybe.. just maybe... home really is where your heart is.
To my friend, I will miss you more than I would ever tell you. I am so proud of you and your sacrifices. As much as you hate to hear it, you are one of my hero’s. I cannot wait to attend your coming home party, as we will surely have lots to celebrate. Godspeed my friend.
Today, is truly a great day to be alive.