We were watching a movie in the family room the other night, when the boys asked if they could sleep on the floor in their sleeping bags. You'd think, after changing beds sixteen times in five weeks, they'd want to sleep in their own bunks. But I think they were missing the feeling of us together on the road, five of us in the van by day, sharing a hotel room by night. Even in my mother's tiny house for three weeks, we were pretty much on top of each other. It might sound like the seventh circle of hell to some, and I won't lie to you, there were nights I woke up feeling claustrophobic and disoriented, desperate to be back in my own bed. But on the evening after we'd been robbed in Quebec City, I looked at my family, seated around a table in a restaurant inn in the Ontario countryside, and knew that the bond between the five of us had reached a new level since we'd walked out our front door, a month earlier.
I don't think that can happen in a vacation of a week, or even two. Maybe three. I think it happens when you are away long enough to get homesick, to get uncomfortable, to become rootless. You wake up at night, panicked, like the little bird in the children's story who asks, "Who is my mother?", only the question for you is, "Where is my home?" And since you can't click your heels together three times and get back to the place where you are comfortable, you are forced to really answer the question, and discover that the answer is beside you in bed, and sleeping on the floor. Home, here, breathing all around you.