Where I Belong

Thanks to a crazy idea & a song that popped up at just the right moment, I found it.

Taralei Griffin
Nov 2, 2019 · 4 min read
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Self Portrait by the author ❤

Despite the major influence music has on my life and my work, there aren’t many musicians in my upcoming book. I certainly expected there to be more, especially as my research involved driving the Great River Road.

I drove through the Twin Cities and walked past First Ave, was surrounded by jazz and blues and cajun musicians as I traveled further south… but I’ve found that even when you make the strictest itinerary, nothing ever seems to go as planned.

When I started my road trip in September of 2018, I had sold most of my furniture and was moving out of my apartment in Clarksville, Tennessee. My schedule was already messed up as I had needed to delay my starting date due to needing more time to move out.

*Note to self: ask for help when you’re moving. No matter how badass and independent you think you are, unless you are an extremely accomplished minimalist, you will need help. Trust me.

I had one last errand to run in Nashville before picking up my dog from my now empty apartment, turning in my keys, and hitting the road.

As I drove from Clarksville to Nashville, I had a favorite Spotify playlist on the radio. It finished just as I was pulling up to my destination, and a suggested song began to play.

I had never heard the song before, but something about it tugged at my heart right away.

I dropped off something I’d needed to leave behind, and replayed the song as I drove back to Clarksville. I played it again and again, and eventually just added it to my road trip playlist.

That song played as I took the exit for my grandfather’s house to rest for the night, and as I crossed state lines from Iowa to Minnesota. It played as I drove down new streets and into states I had never visited before. Each time, it seemed to fit the mood perfectly.

Not only are the lyrics particularly striking to me as someone who has long struggled with the concept of “home” but the melody itself moves my soul and the steady beat seems to march right along with my heart, making me feel as if I could keep moving forward no matter how tired I get.

A few years ago, I decided that “home” was where I was doing what I was happiest, surrounded by or able to stay connected with people who supported and loved me. My sense of that has become much broader now, but my feelings about where I’m at “home” are the same at the most basic level.

I don’t need one place to feel like home when I love and am comfortable in so many places — and I can feel at home in places I’ve never been before.

Driving the Great River Road felt like home. Getting to explore the entire length of the Mississippi River with my dog, visiting the places I’d grown up in Illinois and Minnesota, and finding new places that I absolutely adore and will visit again — it was all about going home for me.

While the book will have a lot of stories about life along the river for myself and many others, I struggle with finding the words to accurately sum up my feelings on home, and what this adventure was like for me — but the vibe this song evokes and the feelings described by the lyrics seem to hit a good amount of it right on the head, so I’ll stop rambling for now and leave you with that. (& hope you will read my book when it arrives, January 2020!)

❤ ❤ ❤ ❤ ❤ ❤ ❤

Instead of an excerpt from THE GREAT MEANDER, for November I wanted to share a bit behind the music that inspired me. Upon my book’s release, I’ll have an entire playlist that inspired the book available online! Stay tuned!

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For more stories from my road trip of the Great River Road,
click the “The Great Meander” tab on the
Meridian Creators page for more from my upcoming travel memoir,
THE GREAT MEANDER, available January 1st, 2020!
As of this post, the countdown to the release of my debut book has only 2 months left to go. We’ve got ONE more sneak peek coming your way, so stay tuned!

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