Wednesday, June 30, 2010

In which I get a little sappy

I'm a little homesick. It's taken me by surprise. I knew I loved my New York friends, but I wasn't really aware of myself falling hard for the city itself. There were definitely some moments when I realized that I loved it, like late nights on the subway when everyone's a little drunk and their hard New York edges have gone soft and people smile at each other and each musician playing on the platform seems put there specially to make your heart go all warm and fuzzy. But I didn't realize it felt like home until I left it.

Being away from New York has also, interestingly, made me homesick for Durango in a really intense way. I've lived in a lot of places by now and I've put down some roots in all of them, but the only places that have really felt like home are Mattapoisett (as complicated as my relationship with that town has been at times, and as strange as it feels to go back sometimes, as long as my family is there, it's home), Durango, and now New York. And maybe Tanzania - it's funny, I was there for less than four months and never had a consistent address - and yet somehow I spent parts of the last four years missing it as fiercely as I've ever missed a place. But then time doesn't mean much. I lived at Bucknell second longest of anywhere, and I've barely looked back at it since I left; only once or twice have I even had an urge to visit.

I suppose that being sort of a nomad means that I'll spend my life missing someone or some place constantly. That's a little sad. But it's okay. Smile, the Chinese girl staying in my dorm at the hostel, has a little trouble with English but a wonderful ability to capture a lot of complicated things in very few words. The other day, when she talked about how traveling a lot makes her "noleny" (lonely) sometimes, she said she thinks of her friends back home who settled down young and started accumulating cars and homes.

"I'd rather be noleny," she said, "than boring."

So anyway, I'm alternating between "Empire State of Mind" and "Wagon Wheel" on my iTunes playlist. You know what, let's throw in a little "African Queen," too.

The songs that will always be my anthems for the places I'm missing:

Edited to add two things.

1) "African Queen" just came on the radio, just two minutes after I posted this - the first time I've heard it played since I got here!

2) I was telling my friend and coworker Wanjiru that I hadn't realized how much I would miss New York, and she said, "Like yesterday, when you were gone." (I was out at museums all day trying to get some interviews for my current project.) "You're one of us now - people kept coming in and saying, 'Where is she?'"

Looks like there's one more place I'll be missing after this summer. Awww.

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