When I said, "I traversed the Great State of 'X'" rest assured what I meant was "I had a lot of driving to do and I hoped I wouldn't fall asleep with the cruise control set at 75 mph." Really, anytime I told anyone what I had to go through just to get home I used the word "traverse." What do you think of when you hear the word “traverse”? Don't you imagine something the likes of Lewis and Clark might have experienced? As a listener, you are intrigued. Mood- elevated. Interest- piqued.
As the speaker, I knew this. I didn't want the person I was talking to to think I didn't like going home because I did. It's just what I had to go through to get there was some(most)times, inconvenient (at a minimum). I've learned it's better to have your audience imagine a fantastical journey of exploratory spirit encompassing will power and patience in order to get a college named after you. Ok, maybe not the last part. But at a minimum, it was that spirit that embodied the feelings of home.
Recently, I "traversed" the "Great State" of Pennsylvania. (I am aware Pennsylvania goes by "Commonwealth." Work with me here.) I don't remember how many hours it was, but I drove across the whole thing. It was a beast. An absolute behemoth of gray sky, pavement, and tractor trailers. I needed blue skies, fresh pavement, and reasonable drivers. I got rain, potholes, and surly long distance haulers. So yea, you could say that it required will power and patience to ensure survival. More so, it needed some engineers and a road paving crew, pronto. Nothing about it was exploratory. Just Point A to Point B. It didn't deserve having an institution of higher learning named after me.
It did, in retrospect, deserve a soundtrack. One that encompassed some feeling of will power, patience, and of the fantastical. On that soundtrack, it deserved The Head and the Heart's "Rivers and Roads." Really, I was leaving because my family live[d] in a different state, and in the words of the song if you don’t know what to make of this, then we will not relate.
So, of course, it took will power and patience to be away from them as long as I was. They grew and achieved and called occasionally but didn’t connect fully because they knew I had to devote my energies to other endeavors. They had to find out if they could get along without me, and to decide things that I probably wouldn’t have had a say in anyway.
And now I’m back. It’s all just as romantic and fantastical, isn’t it? To return to where you started? End where you began? On the other hand, as even the song points out:
nothing is as it has been.
You will be haunted by the harmonies of this song. If you’ve experienced anything about moving away and changing and moving back and wanting the old and getting the new and coming to terms with the in between and starting again you’ll recognize it in the song.
And, after coming to terms with all that (if you can), from your little spot on the east coast, with your family all around you, you’ll look back on what you had (temporarily) given it all up for. You’ll recall fondly and maybe want to be back on the other side of Pennsylvania, in that far off place. And for some of those people that were there with you, or maybe even just one, you'll think:
I miss your face like hell.