I used to hate to leave home. I’d tear up when I pulled out of my parents’ driveway on my way back to Boston. Once I even cried the whole 4 hour trip back. I know, it sounds ridiculous. But leaving Maine felt a little like having a leg ripped off. And then I would get back to my apartment and unpack and call my mom and cry again. And she would remind me that I was really pretty close to home, I liked my life there, and if I really wanted to I could move back.
But I couldn’t move back for no reason. I worried I wouldn’t meet any interesting men, that there would be no fulfilling job, and there would be no culture or diversity to stimulate me. Strange that I could miss a place so much when I obviously thought so little of it.
I was out of state for 7 years. This past Thanksgiving was the second one where I didn’t have to cross state lines in order to go home. Last Saturday, when I came back to Portland, there were no tears. There was something like relief. It had been a great few days with friends and family, and now I was ready for some alone time. It was getting dark but I was desperate for fresh air so I went out and walked around the West End.
There was the ocean, pulling away from the Fore River, and there was the hill, grassy and sweet smelling under dry brown leaves, and there was the sun slipping down behind the White Mountains. I-295 was there in the distance, but it was asking nothing of me. It was not taking me back to another state against my will. There was a moment of silence between us; a thoughtful nod of acknowledgement. Things were right with the world, and my heart swelled a little bit to think that I could leave home but still be in Maine and feel such an utter sense of belonging.