Tonight, our plane was involved in a traffic jam of other planes trying to land in San Francisco. Since we weren't cleared to land, our pilot did some time-wasting in the fashion of circles around the Bay Area as we waited to decent.

I was in the window seat, and I watched us turn from the upper East Bay toward the ocean. From above, the moment where the ocean stopped and the peninsula began was drawn by a line of clouds so fluffy they appeared as thick, gray cotton. I imagined myself jumping in to them, sinking in deep and holding fistfuls in my hands. As we rounded the city, we came in over the ocean, and at a certain point we were just above the middle of the peninsula where if you stare and imagine, you can see the thumb of California reaching around the Bay, and draw out the rest of the state slowly stretching from either side. Below, the interstates look like long lines of light. You can't make out exactly what each light is, but if you know this place, you know where you are.

Home is such a conditional word. When I leave California, I say I'm going home. When I leave Wisconsin, I say I'm going home. This apartment is my home - where I live, with my husband, our rats, our things - but, really, I have no idea where home is. Some people go home, to their parent's house, where their rooms are still their rooms, and their things from school still adorn walls and line closets. Some people go home to their husbands/wives/children, or their roomates, and sometimes, any of those people feel like their home.

When I was in high school, I didn't live with my Mom or Dad. I lived in between. I moved out of my Mom's house, where I'd lived forever, when I was 15 because of an abusive situation that I needed to be away from. My Dad lived 10 minutes away, in Elroy, where I always had a room. I had a 1992 Ford Escort, in teal, that held most of my important stuff, and from there, I conducted my life. I stayed at one parent's or the other, or with friends. My car was mine, and it was home. It wasn't that I didn't feel comfortable with my Dad, but his life wasn't built with a kid around all the time, especially a teenager. I always felt as though I was staying with them - biding time.

I used to think, man, it would be great to have a home. Where I felt comfortable to be, where I wanted to return to, and where I had all of my stuff organized and optimized for life. Right now, after being in Wisconsin for a week, I wonder if I'll ever know what home means, or be able to define it for myself.

When we moved to this apartment, I spent a lot of time and money making it ours. We painted, bought new (used) furniture and covered the walls and shelves in our little things. This is something I'd never done before. I wanted to feel like it was mine, like I built it. But sometimes, it feels like another place I'm just waiting in. Waiting for a home that will be mine.

On our first day in Minnesota, we traveled a few miles down the road from Dave's parents to a graduation party at his aunt's house. It was beautiful most of the day, but as we were about to leave, a thunderstorm blew in. I sat on the steps of their house, feeling the goosebumps rise on my skin as the cold front met us. I closed my eyes and remembered the smell of rain in the distance. And on the way home, there was this.

That, above, does not happen here in California, here in the Bay Area.

In Wisconsin, there are no mountains, and you can watch the storms roll in. The green tree groves that shine in glittering bold colors in the sunshine deepen and brood in under gray blue skies. Native Californians and even some transplants tell me, "I hate when it rains. I love the constant 70 degree days". But, I don't. When I'm here, and not there, I pine for the tension between the blue and red on the weather map. The suspense of weather. The stories told in fields of flat tree, tree, nothing.

Time stands still when we spend more than a weekend back home. This apartment in California sits vacant, collecting mail, paid for on its little slab of cement with no trees. My job, my education, my desires - all live here, in a swirling mass of responsibility that like anyone else, I love one day and regret the next. There, I am consumed by tree, tree, nothing. The comfort of a midwestern accent. The familiar smell of my Mom's living room. I am surrounded by family, both of blood and of marriage, who know me and respect me for the person I am. I am reunited with friends, most of which I have known since childhood, who could point me out in the darkness by the sound of my footsteps. I laugh, I remember, and I breathe deeply without worrying about what kind of facade I have to wear. I feel love.

Here, I rush, work and bleed all over the things to which I aspire; but love is lost between skyscrapers and murky bay water. I should feel lucky - my best friend and another very close friend are here, transplanted, and make my life better in so many ways. But in return, I have met tons of people, girls, boys, old, young, who see me as just another tadpole in the sea. We don't connect on true things - deep things, that come naturally to those who know me. I'm always holding my breath. Maybe everyone else is, too.

I love getting a phone call or an email just to say hello. Or maybe, "how are you?". But here, in a metro of over three million people, all I've mostly found people who just don't click with this Aries.

The days following a visit to Wisconsin are lonely, by default. I say goodbye, and my younger brothers go to first grade. My Dad turns 50. My sister becomes a woman.

As I watched the scenery unfold below me from the plane tonight, I thought about home. My affection for the splendor I was watching, the things waiting for me down there, but my sadness for the things I'd left behind. I thought about all the changes on the horizon for so many people I love. I know its likely that I wasn't the only person on that Northwest flight over San Francisco doing the same thing. I thought about the life I've chosen - and am just defining - and what inevitably I have to pay.

I thought about long nights at Country Kitchen and the dreams that were more than dreams. And, I tried to imagine what home should be - what I want it to be. Behind closed eyes, I saw me, my suitcase and my camera underneath a thunderstorm. And David, even though sometimes not physically.


2 people's thoughts:

david June 9, 2009 at 11:10 AM  

don't ever again tell me you are not a good writer. That was great.

And let me point out for the philosophically minded out there...what would her thoughts have been had she sat in the aisle instead of the window.

Of course, if you know Nissa, she would not sit in the aisle.

Anonymous,  June 16, 2009 at 11:47 PM  

I agree with David. That was beautifully written.

I completely understand what you mean. Maybe i have never moved but I live two lives. One here, one in Wisconsin.
Over the last 6 years I've often asked myself where I am home and what home is to me. It always boils down to the fact that I think one can have more than one home. I am home in our house and I'm home when I'm with Jake. I'm home when I curse soccer fans around me and when I curse living in a college town.

I think it's very rare to only have one place to call home and maybe it's not even necessary.
It sounds cheesy, but home IS where the heart is and the heart can be in many places at once.

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