"All journeys have secret destinations of which the traveller is unaware." - Martin Buber
This past Tuesday was Mardi Gras. Ten years ago, I would’ve spent the day in New Orleans watching the parades, or at the very least eating a king cake and hanging out with family. This year, though, like every year for the past ten, I put on a Louisiana-themed T-shirt (this time: my New Orleans water meter shirt from Storyville) and went to work like it was any other day.
I’ve been living in the San Francisco area for a decade now, and I love it out here. There’s a lot to love: great weather, great food, great people. Mountains an hour in one direction, a beach an hour in the other. And, before I had my Small One, there was Wine Country. ;) But no matter how much I enjoy being here, I’ll never love it the way I love home.
I miss the things you’d expect. The food, for one. In honor of Mardi Gras, my day job cafeteria served “jambalaya,” and jambalaya is in quotes because while the food was good, and it contained some of the ingredients one might guess were in jambalaya after looking at a picture, it was not jambalaya. I miss LSU football games. I miss the cadence of Southern accents and the relentless green of the Louisiana landscape.
I miss the things you’d think I wouldn’t. The rain. Real rainstorms, not the gentle, obligingly brief showers we get in San Francisco. I want warm, muddy rivers in place of the clear, cold Pacific. I want humidity so thick it feels like the air is holding you up.
I’m not sure I could have written this list before I left home. Before I’d done much traveling, I didn’t know what would be different enough to miss. It’s one of the great gifts of living in new places—you get to look back at where you’ve come from and see it for the first time, like an astronaut looking down at Earth. But the price of that gift is homesickness.
The thing about this homesickness is, it feels like stretching an overworked muscle. It’s painful, but in a good, needful sort of way. I like reminding myself of what home feels like, even when it hurts. Going back—at least permanently—isn’t in the cards for me right now, and I suppose that’s why most of the stories I write are set in the South. I’m getting there the only way I can.
What do you love most about the place you call home?