What can I say? I love you Daddy, even though you still work 60 hours a week as a truck driver at age 75. I flew across the country to eat your cooking. I love you New York, and I’ll never stop loving you or forget what we had and what we could have had and what we do have now, although infrequent. And to my cousins who feel like siblings, talking about our Oma (now passed) on the way back from the city taught me everything I needed to know about family. That we share experience is our rich inheritance; that our stories are bound up in each other. I travel because I have to, and this having to is a cover for wanting to but still needing a cover to act on my desires even though I’m a grown woman. I come back from travel a better person, more solid on the inside and one day science will tell me why. How the amount of textures one experiences is related directly to moral aptitude. How hearing the dialect and accent of my teachers and coaches and mom’s friends growing up acts as my anti-depressant.
Remember when I dove arms outstretched into the Hawthorne pool, a thousand million times each summer? That feeling mid-air, no thoughts, just familiar humidity and the smell of chlorine-on-bathing-suits. That’s the feeling I need want, the one that I atrophy without. To be in the car with my dad where I spent a quarter of my life; where it smells like shoe polish. You know those stories of when an organ transplant doesn’t take? I sometimes feel that way; I moved to the southwest, and I like it enough. But it didn’t take, and that rejection has to be managed. Snow on leaves, fireplaces in restaurants, stone homes from the 1600s, bookstores where the titles above the radiator are warm, authentic ramen, mall arcades, people who say what they think, midtown markets selling macaroons, the best art in the universe. You are my friends and home. So very good to see you.
I just had a realization that made me audibly say, “oh shit” to which my husband from the other room replied, “what?” I was taught from a young age to miss a place. My dad is still ever-missing and ever-moving back to Greece forty years later. I was shown how to pine for home, prefer it, exalt its superiority and visit but never move back. I understand now - the pining isn’t to be overcome but rather is tradition, heritage, DNA. And as Dad’s head hits the pillow tonight with Greek radio playing softly, I click my lamp in the desert suburbs next to an iPad playing ambient noise, two tracks at once: rain and the city.