Going Home
by J. Elston

From the writer: This piece was written on the final day of a trip I took with two other friends in Spain. We had just spent three wonderful days in a little resort town call Marbella. As we walked to the bus station very early in the morning, the sun came up over the Mediterranean and lit up the mountains that sit right behind the town. It was an incredible sight and magical moment when I really felt connected with the world.

From the teacher: A key goal for my London writing courses was that they should be useful for students going through a lot of learning experiences which weren't necessarily narrowly "academic" (hearing Mark Twain's "I never let my schooling interfere with my education" echoing in my head). Focusing on creative nonfiction as a genre meant that memoir and personal essays would be common, and that sharing personal stories during the writing process might make some people a little uncomfortable. Jed took me aside and let me know on the first day of class that he "wasn't a writer," and that he wasn't all that keen on sharing intimate details of his own life with what I called the "studio community." Read his story and you'll see that he was wrong on the first count, and learned how to deal with the second.

From the editors: As we read Elston's story about returning home at the end of a journey, we can relate to the warmth and triumph experienced when he finally makes it back to something comfortable. Whether it is returning home, finishing a piece of writing, or achieving a new stage in your life, the visions conjured and the feelings expressed by this composition are inherent in every person's life experience.

This is where the music usually kicks in. The song that everyone loves. The song that makes everyone reminisce about good times they have had, a summer barbecue or a special place they have been.

We are walking up the hill towards the bus station. Ten days in Spain and finally heading home. Sometimes you just have that feeling. The one when you are really tired, but you're rested too. The feeling where, despite the weight of your bag and the uphill walk, you can't stop smiling. The time you know you've done what you wanted to do and now you're heading home.

We still had a long trip to get back to the airport in Madrid, so this magical walk started early. Earlier, in fact, since no one had remembered daylight savings time. This city had sealed the deal. Lying on the beach all day, listening to the Mediterranean lap up against the shore, the restaurants which serve you fresh fish and wine as you sit under the stars. It had, for us, made the vacation great. Though not one of us was unhap-py to be heading home.

Cue the music, roll the credits. Our heroes walk away into the sunrise victorious.

It was a quick left out of the hostel, through the narrow streets we had come to expect from old cities in Spain. The street jumps around corners as the ancient buildings cram closer; there watchful eyes stare down at us, and I am sure they have seen weary travelers before. We are soon out of the old city back into the real town. The place where real people live, with real lives, and real jobs. You sometimes forget in a resort town with all the restaurants, hotels, and beaches that people must live here too.

Past the big apartment buildings, I forget that for today, I can hear the music, and it beckons me forward. Home.

The sun has started to come up now. Rising out of the east over the Mediterranean and the town, onto the Sierra Nevada mountains which rise majestically in front of us. They take up the skyline in three directions, their slopes alight with energy and happiness. The outskirts of town run up into them. A couple of white houses speckle the lower slopes before the mountains jump higher still towards the heavens.

I want to drop my bags, to run to the mountain, climb it, stand on top, ruler of everything I see. Shout out my love, my fears to the wind. I don't. This is not the right song for that anyway, it's the song where we continue our trek, our jour-ney. Over the highway to the station. The journey that began there will soon lead us home.


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