Kev and I just finished dinner and are heading back to where my parents are watching Connor. Our car crosses the rumbly threshold between land and bridge, and we ascend the Belleair Causeway, a bridge arching over the strip of water that carves space between the Gulf beaches and the rest of the peninsula that borders Tampa Bay. We're staying a little ways south in a town called Indian Shores, my parents' residence for almost twenty years. As we approach the beaches and dusk, the car radio is blasting "Carry On My Wayward Son." Crossing the apex of the bridge, I see the little remaining sun glitter on the water, and the buildings seem small enough to fit in my arms. Our brief height coupled with the tang of the guitar chords evokes that expansive, warm-fuzzy feeling characteristic of epic moments, like the end of The Breakfast Club or whenever I hear Boston's "More than a Feeling."
But rather than these, my mind is taken back to the last time I heard this particular anthem. I was in my in-laws' guest bedroom a month prior; the sun had set long before and the blinds were up. Kev was wrangling our 19 month old on the changing table post bath. Still in his diaper, Connor stood up and leaned toward the window. "Dark," he said, pointing and nodding his head. Suddenly, his eyes widened, and he started jumping from foot to foot. "Music!" he squeaked. Sure enough, a full orchestration of "Carry On My Wayward Son" was drifting from the nearby high school football field where the local marching band had started their first practice of the season. Instead of feeling the melodic swell pull me into rock n' roll ecstasy, I was engulfed in the smallness of it—the silhouette of boy against the darkened window, the man who held him, the stillness present despite the song.
From the small-town Michigan marching band to the Southern edge of the States, the connection seems palpable. Tracing the lip of the Gulf of Mexico in our car with what feels like a personalized soundtrack is the same breed of energizing that motivates people to run in the mornings—when everything and everywhere feels possible. Everywhere is possible right now. The place where we'll land had not been determined. In the meantime, we'll try Michigan, Florida, Illinois, France, England, Ireland. It's all there. And I do feel this drive to move, to explore, to embrace fully, but my caveat is the boy in the bedroom, the rotating rooms we're calling home during this time of travel.
I may be in different States, on different continents, or speaking a different language, but the boy is still in the bedroom in each one of them. He need to put on his pajamas, to hear a story, a song, and be put to bed. This, this is what home feels like. It doesn't matter where it happens as much as that it does happen. Tonight, he'll wait to fall asleep until these rituals are followed and he's safe in my arms. "Carry on my wayward son, there'll be peace when you are done. Lay your weary head to rest. Don't you cry no more."
The last rays of the sun have given way to coral skies and shadowed streaks of cloud. We reach dry land and head for home.