dariaphoebe: (Default)
For just a moment, as I continued along my riverside path, I let my eyes turn inland.

There wasn't much reason to: ahead of me lie the trail I needed to concentrate on, and to my left was the gorgeous expanse of river. In fact, impending cold weather was the point of the ride. I took the scenic route to get to my destination expressly because I wasn't sure when I'd be able to enjoy perhaps my favorite feature of my new home next.

The massive columns of the Beaux-arts building across the road were perhaps the most obvious feature, but I let my eyes fall on the inscription on the colonnade. Reading the name, I remembered a moment probably 18 years earlier where I'd climbed into a car parked on the opposite side of the quaint green parkway that separated me from the structure.

On that day, my destination was home. Pittsburgh was 11 hours away, on average, and I would arrive at my door after midnight. As I closed the door, I looked out at the same building and wondered: "What if I lived here?"

It wasn't a unique or even uncommon question. Any city I'd figured out my way around and felt any real affinity for would typically prompt the reaction. But at the time I felt I would never leave Pittsburgh.

Considering it at that moment, I found it almost funny. Unanticipated events had pushed me away from my old home and allowed me to finally answer the question, if only for this one place where a day could now end with a short bike ride home instead of a flight or a multi-hour drive.
dariaphoebe: (Default)
I looked down into the dusky light. Towns stretched out to the north across Arkansas, the development set in relief by the upward reflection of overzealous street lighting. I recognized none of them, unusual for me. I let my eyes close.

When I was young, I expected to see only what of the world I might someday be able to take a bus, or perhaps drive, to. By the time I became a licensed driver, I'd left the state just once, and the trip was aborted before we reached the erroneous endpoint of Conneaut. The idea that I might someday be able to afford more seemed farfetched.

The plane shook slightly, and I looked down again. The lights of a town danced beneath me. I squinted to finally realize there was nothing magical afoot. A cloud was receding far below, slowly revealing more of the grid. I looked away.

When I got my license, cosmopolitan was knowing my way around cities, towns and countryside in a 150 mile radius of my home like they were mine. But at 18, I traveled further: eastern Pennsylvania, then Boston, by bus. Within four years of that, I reached the other coast, visiting San Francisco by air. Another three found me I stepping off a train in San Antonio. That Texas travel had not been so far from this trip, but the journeys were a lifetime apart, or more.

Looking down again, I mused that the shape I saw outlined was Paducah, before confirming my suspicions online. I resumed my work. The next gaze brought Columbus, Indiana, before we hit western Ohio, and I reached a world I knew well.

While I've spent time on both coasts as well as through the hinterlands, so much of my life has been spend within an easy drive of the spot I lived from birth. And my memory provides slices of the moments from so much of it, good, bad, and otherwise.

The Canadian side of Lake Erie became visible in a couple spots, but I saw northeast Ohio’s industrial heart starkly delineated against the murky blackness of the unlit, uninhabited body of water alongside. The swirls of concrete and the patterns of lights made it so easy to pick out so many amazing places I’ve been. After Erie, at least, there'd be a respite until Syracuse. But then things intensified, and I found myself picking out cities, as we converged upon the end of the flight.

After hooking north, our arc traced a pattern I knew. The approach pattern told me which runway I'd see in a moment, and I was not surprised when I saw "9/27" signs flick past on the ground. A friend shortly picked me up at the airport. Inside a half hour I sat upon a bed, greeted by a plate of pickles another friend, my host for so many weeks this year, left as she drifted off to sleep before I arrived.

Eastern Massachusetts and my friends here have cemented a place as loving stewards of a tattered person. If home is where the heart is, then truly I am home.
dariaphoebe: (redhead)
As we pushed away from the just-retracted jetbridge and back from our gate, I pressed play again on the device laying loosely in my lap. The music came up quickly, leading into a song about a woman who shared her name with a modern programming language. It finished before our taxiing did, but only barely. Shortly into the next song, our wheels left the ground, and we were gone.

We curled northeastward from runway 35R, and I watched a city drop away below me. For someone who'd visited only thrice, it was astoundingly easy to pick out familiar landmarks as they receded into the distance of the window beside seat 13A in the European-built aircraft hurtling me away from somewhere I wasn't ready to leave. I knew the highways that connected the city southeastward to its airport, to be sure, but I also found myself looking at a dam I'd bicycled over just two days prior.

So much territory -- both new and familiar to me -- under my wheels, most of it in the delightful company of someone whose ability and temperament practically duplicated my own. Leaving to return to my own bicycle might well have been something to look forward to, but it wasn't. Its heavier weight and lower cost are practical necessities in my life, but riding more slowly and invariably alone aren't really a thing to be strived for.

It seemed only fitting when, upon deplaning at my layover, the next flight was cancelled. Only when I complained that they planned to send me a long way and cause me to miss the final bus into the city did they offer another option, and I ran to make it -- barely -- before proceeding to Philadelphia, another place I knew well from the air.

The final leg included a look beneath the clouds just long enough for me to see where I'd be sleeping and figure out which approach pattern the weather was allowing. The clouds then returned until we were just about 5 miles from touchdown. A world obscured by the grey blanket that separated me from the soil below had at least made the question I rolled in my head more real than its original, metaphorical intent: where is home?

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