Homesick.

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Over the past two days I’ve had three different conversations about my life in Scotland. By the time I got in my car to drive home, I was deeply homesick for it, mostly the friends and coworkers I miss, but also mundane bits like Christmas Eve in Waitrose, random herds of curious horses, learning how to ride the bus in a foreign land, and frost-covered moss. I was thinking of that moss when I encountered the frost-dusted leaf in this photo.

Homesickness is generally expressed as a one person, one place phenomenon, but I have experienced waves of homesickness for every place I’ve ever lived. I even yearn for Alabama from time to time, especially the late afternoon summer thunderstorms that shake the magnolia trees, all slick green and heavy cream. Does it make me feel fickle sometimes? Sure. Someone once excoriated my use of the word “favorite” because, in his words, “They can’t all be favorites.”

Can’t they?

Writing from: a quiet study in Portland, Oregon. Listening to: “Trains” by Poppy Ackroyd.

Day 247 of Project 365: Missing Scotland.

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The heatwave dissipated quickly, leaving behind the merest hint of autumn in the air. A few rainy days in a row were enough to wrangle me into heartier outerwear, and as I attempted to shove a wee bag of blueberries into one of my jacket pockets, my fingers caught on a couple of pieces of paper.

I drew them out and smiled. Two tickets from Lothian Buses, dated last December.

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In this endless and perhaps ill-conceived push to move ever forward, I had not allowed myself anything more than the briefest of glimpses in the rear-view mirror at the landscape — that stark, lush, unforgiving and breathtaking landscape — that had just been left behind.

This is home, and that was home too. The heart bounces between the two like a pinball made of feathers. Things fracture and spin off. That’s okay too.

Writing from: my study in Portland, sort of. Listening to: “Low Hymnal” by Told Slant.

Day 99 of Project 365: At the post office.

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The woman in line in front of me at the post office told me that she couldn’t put the Ray Charles stamps on her letters home to Tennessee. She told me to look out for the Jimi Hendrix stamps, and I was glad she did because I hadn’t seen them and they’re beautiful.

The woman in line in front of me at the post office kept chatting with me while she was buying stamps, and then thanked me for chatting with her before she left. I know this is normal behavior in this country but I am still slightly flummoxed by it. I may have been blushing.

When it was my turn, I didn’t see Ray Charles or Jimi Hendrix. I opted for the flower drawing because it reminded me of Marianne’s botanical illustration.

Writing from: my makeshift study in the dining-room. Listening to: Maxine’s buzzing masking something on TV in the living-room.

Day 38 of Project 365: Choice paralysis.

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I thought I had prepared myself for possible points of reverse culture shock. Then I wandered into the candy aisle of our local Walgreens, pictured bottom-right in today’s photo. All I wanted was a pack of mints. There were so many different mints to choose from, and they were right next to a million candy bars, some of which I hadn’t even heard of before. We’ve only been gone for four years! How can so much candy innovation occur in such a short period of time?

The other two photos are from Whole Foods, one from the yogurt case and the other from the nuts aisle. I wasn’t able to capture the scale of either section of the store. There were more things to choose from than I was capable of comprehending of eating, and I really enjoy eating.

Many times while living abroad I pondered what it would be like to walk into a supermarket and be able to choose from different types of food that I wanted to eat as opposed to just different types of food that I could eat. (There were plenty of gluten-free crackers and biscuits in Scotland, but I’ve never enjoyed eating either very much.) Back in America, I’ve been bombarded by so many options that I’ve quickly become overwhelmed. I’m sure it will even out soon, and when it does I hope that I’m able to retain some of this awe over just how many options there are for me here.

Writing from: a room with kale chips in it. Two different flavors, even. Listening to: Zen’s chainsaw purrs. (She likes kale chips almost as much as I do.)

Day 30 of Project 365: Waiting for the N.

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“It’s getting real” is a phrase I unabashedly love. I love it because it’s fun to say and because it indicates a transition from unreality. This unreality is exactly what I have been experiencing in the beautiful enclave of Marin County, reinforced by the fact that I am dependent on others to get in and out of it.

It got real tonight when I took the bus over the bridge, then another bus, and ended up at 19th and Judah, waiting for the N. I snapped a pic on the wheelchair ramp and paused to admire the view. A passerby cheerfully reminded me that I was not in the right place to board the N.

True to form, three inbound Ns came in quick succession while I had to wait over twenty minutes for one outbound. When it arrived, it was packed, but I boarded anyway.

I came face to face with the N-Judah Greeter.

Nothing was different. Everything was different. My belly felt warm, like it was full of hot cocoa.

I took the N to my usual stop and walked to our former home. It was too dark to see if it had been painted a different color. The living-room was bathed in television glow, and different plants were crowded into the meager patch of dirt near the front sidewalk.

Without thinking, I walked to where I would meet my former coworkers for dinner. (The body remembers where it once was situated in physical space.) I sat down at a table set for twelve. (A week ago, I was laughing over lamps in an empty flat.) I am alone in a restaurant full of people. (Text messages ping inside my handbag.)

How has it been four years already? How has it only been four years?

Writing from: Zen’s room in this beautiful enclave. Listening to: laptop fans singing to each other.