I knew what was happening. Almost immediately. The very moment I stepped off the airport shuttle and placed my foot onto the rugged, rocky road. The very moment I inhaled the unsoiled and unsullied mountain air. I knew what was happening:
I made it home.
You see, home, for me, isn’t a dwelling. It’s not something you can touch. It’s not something you can see. I’d be hesitant to assign it a word as simple as “feeling,” too. It’s much more than that. It’s something that wraps through and around your bones. It’s something that embraces your mind in such a way that every thought you’ve ever collected becomes as light as the air around you. And when you’re home, that air is the only air you ever want to breathe. It’s honestly like you’re breathing for the very first time. Everything before it becomes nothing. Once you find home, you find everything.
Home can be found in a place, and it can be found in a person. That’s what finding love is: finding home. Something you just know. You can’t always explain it, you can’t always justify it. But you breathe it, you smell it, you find a familiar comfort in it. And you know.
I knew what was happening. I knew it the very moment I arrived in Banff.
I knew it the first night when I took a walk down Tunnel Mountain Road at 10:30PM and the sun was still making her presence known. I knew it the moment I first laid my watery, bewildered eyes on Moraine. I knew it the morning I took to a hidden path near the summit of the Tunnel Mountain Trail and found myself in an empty, secluded space with a 360° view of the little mountain town. And I knew it the entire time I was running down the mountain – sweat dancing with the wind as I descended, the rocks and branches and ascending hikers getting out of my way, as if they knew I was reveling in what must’ve been a cathartic experience. I knew it as I watched the sun set over Cascade Mountain. I knew it as I watched the ripples consume Mount Rundle’s reflection in the water. I knew it every time I got lost, and every time I refused to reach for my map, and every time I took solace in staying lost.
Because when you find home, there is no true “lost.” There is no honest way of a missed turn or wrong direction. Every way, every road, every corner, is right. If it’s unfamiliar, it is because it's yet to be explored. If it’s unknown, it is because it’s begging you to be learned.
I knew what was happening once I realized I wanted to learn of every inch of the land Banff spread itself upon. I wanted to study it. Not with textbooks or articles or Wikipedia links. Not with any device or resource I could easily access away from here. I just wanted to be in it. To lay in it. To consume it. To be one with it. I just wanted to be home.
It’s an extraordinary thing, I’ve found, to both receive and recognize home. You meet people and things and places, and they’re exciting and stimulating and inspiring in their own individual ways. Life has a lot to offer in that regard. But then there are those rare places, spaces and people who can directly connect to your soul. That can effectively manipulate the air around you so that every breath is a saccharine paradise. Those that can move you in ways you never knew you could bend. Stretch your mind in ways you never knew it could reach. Touch you in such a way that no dream, no story, no photograph could ever completely capture or captivate you in the same way. Those rare places, spaces and people pass on through our lives and live in the depths of our memories to which we turn to when we want to feel love and joy and comfort. That’s where love will always come from. That’s where it lives. It lives in the home of our souls’ choosing, and the home we are meant to find.
I knew what was happening. I knew it immediately. I knew it the very moment I arrived in Banff. I knew it when I made it home.