As we walked Copenhagen the morning before my flight, Torbjorn asked how it felt to be returning home for a second time this year… and i really couldn't tell him. In Turkiye we'd discussed the contrasts between life at home and abroad, the different opportunity spaces we found in a different culture, yet this time was different. Whether spurred by deeper confidence as a traveler or by a genuine uprooting from the sense of home (shuffling back and forth among my father's house and the cheapest possible apartments), i couldn't predict what i'd feel. Another friend put it this way in an email:
I began to think that, after the liberty and freedom of the past two and one-half weeks, being in the village of Newburgh with NO public transport or coffee shop for that matter, how confined (trapped?) you must be feeling.
Yet as the plane descended, and the Boston skyline shone against an apricot sky - one that reminded me of a childhood postcard - i felt a wash of gratitude. Truth is, for the moment i'm quite happy to be surrounded by the familiar. Coming back to Maine i felt a certain sense of relief, the sense that i'd not have to feel a linguistic outsider. It was cold - but this morning the sun, which i had hardly seen in two weeks, shone bright through bare maple boughs, straight into my bedroom.
It's hunting season, and as i clean clotted leaves and pine needles off Dad's roof i can hear the report of a distant rifle. There's one in the closet - but as much as i want to, i'll never be a deer hunter. As much as i yearn that particular familiarity with the forest, my capacity is one for music and prose instead. Hearing shots i think back to security guards i saw in Kurdistan, to the ethnic tension in Malmo - the police apprehended the prime suspect in October's shootings, by the way - yet there's no real comparison to draw as far as safety goes; only the sense of home, the pleasure of raking leaves out of the perennial beds, smelling the catmint, knowing the heuchera and wild geranium and Canada anemones will be there next spring in all the familiar spots, nibbling some parsley from the kitchen garden. There is a great peace to it, though no better than the peace of remaining calm and grounded in the bustle of a million people; a sense of home, though for a traveler that sense winds vine-like through life, too easily uprooted to cling to.