I started to have this deep sense of longing for this place- I think they call it homesickness. In French, when you miss someone or something, the verb is reflexive, so it's not "I miss ____". It is always, "_____ is missing from me." I think this is truer.
The homesick feeling started about a week and a half ago and I couldn't pinpoint quite why...
friends aplenty here, and good ones at that. I've been making headway on my quest to find the perfect chocolate chip cookie, so, it couldn't be that. The apartment is coming together slowly, so I'm not sure it's that. The weather has been great and the leaves are changing and every day brings something new here, so why the feeling that something is actually missing from me?
And I realize that this is the longest I've ever been away from home.
To fight this feeling, I have been reading Ken Kesey's masterful work of Pacific Northwestern prose, Sometimes a Great Notion.
"You must go through a winter to understand.
For one thing, Jonas couldn't see all that elbow room that the pamphlets had talked about. Oh, it was there, he knew. But not the way he'd imagined it would be. And for another thing, there was nothing, not a thing! about the country that made a man feel Big and Important. IF anything it made a man feel dwarfed...Important? Why, there was something about the whole blessed country that made a soul feel whipped before he got started. Back home in Kansas a man had a hand in things, the way the Lord aimed for his servants to have: if you didn't water, the crops died. If you didn't feed the stock, the stock died. As it was ordained to be. But there, in that land, it looked like our labors were for naught. The flora and fauna grew or died, flourished or failed, in complete disregard for man and his aims. A Man Can Make His Mark, did they tell me? Lies, lies. Before God I tell you: a man might struggle and labor his livelong life and make no mark! None! No permanent mark at all! I say it is true.
You must go through a least a year of it to have some notion."
I am 350 pages in and am sure it will rank among my all time favorites (barring any type of bullshit hooligan nonsense ending like that other book I've said this about, The Story of Edgar Sawtelle).
Last Monday at work:
"Hey, clear your plans for the week."
"I already did in the evenings, since that VP is going to be in town and you said we should be ready to go out-"
"Nope. The whole week. You're going to San Francisco tomorrow."
And so, on Tuesday, I was on a plane to San Francisco, back to the Best Coast, for a full on real work training at our headquarters, along with another new Account Coordinator from Chicago.
Having been to SF many times and having so many wonderful and close friends there, I was thrilled at the opportunity rather than put out or annoyed at the inconvenience (it was literally such late notice I had to go out and buy socks rather than have clothes laundered).
I got to stay in a gorgeous big hotel room all alone, see said friends, meet many great people at our office there...
and surprisingly, came to find, that after only 10 weeks as an inhabitant of big, mean, New York City, I was a big, mean, New Yorker.
WHY ARE THERE NO CABS!?! I screamed silently, and then, aloud.
WHY ARE YOU ALL WALKING SO SLOWLY!?! I wanted to yell at everyone in my general warpath on the sidewalks.
WHERE ARE ALL THE PEOPLE?! I wondered.
WHY IS IT SO QUIET!?! I asked aloud to myself at 1 AM in my luxuriously fluffy hotel bed.
I had been so eager to get out of NYC and then all I could think about was getting back to its constance: constant energy, constant flow of traffic, constant noise levels, consistency in scenery - block after block of the same coffee shops, repeated in an endless Escher-esque tessellation.
It seems I have developed quite the passionate love/hate affair with this place and basically fostered a burning hatred for the "city" of San Francisco.
Yeah, I said it.
I arrive in New York late Friday, around midnight.
I sleep late Saturday, waking only to let the exterminator in the building.
I go back to sleep, and then finally rise around 1:30. In the space of the next few hours, all on foot, I am able to pick up coffee and a bagel, buy detergent, do a load of laundry at the laundromat,walk to the local second-hand store to purchase a nightstand, go grocery shopping, and walk to the post office to retrieve a package.
Feeling quite accomplished with my day's work, I hustle upstairs to tear open my parcel as reward.
Reward doesn't even begin to describe it. The modest cardboard box from my dear and darling friend Drew at home says simply that it is a belated birthday/care package and CARE doesn't even FINISH describing it! The contents include:
- One ready-make Chocolate Chip Cookie package
- One bag of Lemon-Herb Ricola throat lozenges
- Two bags of local Portland coffee (!!!)
- Two pairs of delightfully warm and soft winter socks rolled into a
- Gigantic green Oregon Ducks mug!
- A bag of holiday PEANUT M&Ms
- and a cute little Duck LED light keychain that QUACKS.
All those things from home make THIS place feel like it could also be my home.
That was the best gift, tucked among those goodies.