As we pushed through the clouds on Wednesday night, nosing down into L.A., Kirk and I stared at the never-ending crisscrossing web of lights extending in every direction, and he asked me, "How does it feel?"
When I plopped onto the middle of the pale green-and-white couch in my mom's living room on Friday night, clutched near to a suffocation I would gladly endure by Hannah on the one side of me and Kate on the other, both wrapping their tiny, strong arms around my less-than-tiny frame, both of them planting me with kisses and squeezing me with giggles, they asked me, "How does it feel?"
As we sat down with my good friend Sara at a table on the outside patio at Market City Caffe in Brea on Saturday afternoon, preparing ourselves for our regular round of their delicious Insalata Allison with vinaigrette dressing, gorgonzola cheese, garbanzo beans, shredded chicken, and diced salami, plus their yummy, cheesy, pepperoni pizza and those famous long pipes of fresh bread with oil and perfect balsamic vinegar dressing just for dipping, Sara folded her arms on top of the table and asked, "So, how does it feel?"
The only word I could find to answer each one of them was this sterile, surprising one: familiar.
Just familiar. Not like home. Not terrific or fantabulous. Not like everything I never knew I'd been missing all this time, plus more. Familiar. That's all.
The truth is that the trip was fun, filled with many of the people I love and more time with some of them than I could ever have hoped to get, but the truth is also that I missed home, a home that has so clearly become Florida to me in these six short months. I missed our home and I missed our life and I missed our cats and I missed our street and our charming little town. There I was, hopping on and off freeway ramps, interchanging multiple highways in the space of fifteen to thirty short minutes, careening down little-known sidestreets, and calling out lane changes in a place I know better than any other place on the face of this planet, yet now a visitor in that place, no longer able to call it home.