Homesick.

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crisper

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 296 of Project 365: Cheechaw the spider.

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This is Cheechaw, our house spider. She sits serenely above us all and eats all of the nasty bugs that come around. I love her. I had to get up on a step-stool to take this photo and even then I had to lift my arms way above my head.

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I named her “Cheechaw” for no particular reason at all except that I call most wee sweet creatures “Cheechaw”. It’s a generic term of endearment which probably originated from Lindsay Bluth’s chicken dance.

Writing from: my study in Portland, Oregon. Listening to: FunkyPlaid listen to NFL people talk about NFL things.

Day 295 of Project 365: Today’s smile.

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Today’s smile started when I picked FunkyPlaid up from the airport this morning and it hasn’t been far from my face since.

FunkyPlaid even managed to decorate a little for Halloween! I’m so glad he’s home. Work and exhaustion are solid distractions from my loneliness, but life is so much better when he’s around.

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Writing from: my study in Portland, Oregon. Listening to: FunkyPlaid turn the pages of the book he’s reading. ❤

Day 266 of Project 365: Guest room.

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Tomorrow a dear friend arrives for a weekend visit and I am so excited! My study is also the guest-room, so the daybed also serves as the auxiliary clothing surface where I toss outfits that don’t pass bleary-eyed muster each workday morning. Now the daybed is cleared off, freshly laundered, and (since Zen doesn’t jump up there anymore) fur-free.

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Writing from: a cozy guest-room in Portland, Oregon. Listening to: Spotify’s Autumn Acoustics playlist.

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 172 of Project 365: By the lights.

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There are pretty lights in the corner of FunkyPlaid’s study. I haven’t really decorated my space yet, but I am looking forward to it.

Today it has been 147 days since we left Scotland, not that I’m counting. (Of course I’m counting. I count everything.) That’s nearly five months. I say “nearly five months” but my current experience of time is so wonky that the phrase is practically meaningless.

A spam email in my inbox called me Dogmatic Halsted. Another called me Blatantly Halsted. I’d rather be blatant than dogmatic, I think.

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Writing from: my unembellished study. Listening to: an airplane leaving or arriving … anything but standing still.

Day 156 of Project 365: Herb garden. 

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Today’s 100-degree heat today did not foil our plans to plant our herb garden. I am hopeful that I will be able to keep these herbs alive long enough to cook with them, a skill that eluded me in Scotland. 


Writing from: the game room, which is the only decently cool room in the house tonight. Listening to: the laptop fan. 

Day 127 of Project 365: On the front porch.

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As the dusk bugs swarmed our bare necks, we ate pizza and salad on the front porch. The conversation drifted lazily between topics, carried by the slight breeze. Small side-tables we had acquired a country ago, a lifetime ago, were jumbled with paper boxes and purple plates.

It’s good to be home, I thought, in that moment “home” being the place and also the feeling.

Writing from: my study. Listening to: myself yawn.

Day 32 of Project 365: Puzzled.

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There’s something going on in Iowa right now, I think. Is anyone running on the “improve Cygnoir’s immune system” ticket? I could use it. FunkyPlaid, too, has succumbed to the creeping crud. We’re having a quiet evening together, he with his puzzle of various beiges, and me with my notebook.

I’m not kidding about the beiges. Here’s another view:

Zen lounges on the rug near us, finally comfortable enough to let her guard down outside her inner sanctum.

Writing from: somewhere far away from Iowa. Listening to: the soft thwick of puzzle pieces on a plastic mat.

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.