I just had an amazing, ‘wow’ moment down at the Co-op market.
I went in to buy some lemonade and stood there amongst the tourists and locals. One young woman with a very local Devonian accent was working at the tills and ringing up a huge basket full of ‘holiday’ food for a Polish tourist – a bottle of Rhein wine, sausage, cold meats, Ry-Krisp, grapes. In addition, they were trying to communicate about something complicated and, in general, taking ages to transact the purchase of food. The three young guys on duty were hanging out near the cold drinks counter and shooting the breeze about the football and girls and summertime. I felt briefly impatient, and then I thought ‘Melinda, chill out, honey. You’re in Devon. You want Quik-checkout, you go to Exeter or London or anywhere in the USA for Chri-yi’. So I relaxed into the moment. ‘Daniel’ came over to serve me at one of the other tills and I asked if he is the son of a friend of mine in the village. He said ‘Yes, I’ve seen you on the bus a couple of times’. We had a little chitty-chat and I walked outside into the brilliant summer day.
I walked back home against a tide of Sunday motorbikers and bicyclists and drivers and walkers (we are in the middle of Dartmoor after all), a young couple in a vintage VW camperan, heading to Cornwall and chasing the waves, a coachload of German tourists and a farmer on a tractor, in the gorgeous English sunshine. I live in a place where people come to visit, for a day or a week. While they are here, they can have a great meal, use it as a starting point for a walk on the moors, have a cream tea in one of the two tearooms, or stock up on provisions on their way to points Everywhere.
We have historically been a crossroads town for hundreds, maybe thousands of years. We’re a working town, not a ‘honeypot’ destination town. My village is a place where people from the East come to on their way to Dartmoor. Moretonhampstead – The Gateway to the Moor. We welcome people, give them what they need to continue their journey, share our hospitality with them until they are replenished and point them in the right direction.
And I thought ‘I am so f***ing grateful to be here. That this is home, my home’. The place I’ve been searching for for many years and sometimes thought I’d never find.
Maybe we’re all searching, or under the illusion that we are searching for home. The truth is, we already are home. We just forget. But I couldn’t have written about this two years ago even. People do say, and many people did say to me along my journey, ‘Home is inside of you’ and implied that I should be happy anywhere. Yes, this is a spiritual Truth. I thank those people, and yet it remained so important to me to keep seeking just that bit longer until I found the person and location and, yes, the place inside of me, which truly reflects and complements me. I thank also the people I met along my journey who said, ‘Keep looking’.