I have not been home in over two weeks and I miss the damp grass, the oppressive gray skies, my favorite trees, which here and now I will admit to hugging when no-one looks. And yet, here I am in LA with its wide-eyed, big-skied, along-for-the-ride optimism. The Santa Anas are blowing through the canyons and fires burns all over the state. My Nissan has CarPlay and I've fallen in love with it and its Nevada plates, as I buzz around the city on familiar streets, feeling a lovelorn longing for pastel green and pink buildings, dehydrated brown fan palms, and bad sixties car washes. I miss all of it. I feel attached to Toyota pick up trucks with lawnmowers in the back, low rider cars on Sunset; I even stopped by In 'n Out and was pleased I could remember how to order from the secret menu. I live, it seems, in a constant state of longing, of otherness, of not really fitting in anywhere. My head is down, fully connected to my work, which is satisfying, and all-consuming, in a way that it hasn't been for about a year. It's the season, I know, but I'd forgotten that I'm actually quite good at my job, or that I've been doing this for long enough that I have confidence in my voice when it comes to strategy. (I still haven't been able to summon up the courage to suggest my idea to wrap all the water tanks in New York City in papal red; maybe another day). I am disconnected from my home, my man, my horse, my dogs. I miss them and yet I don't want to think about them because it will lead to melancholia, which doesn't seem fitting.
I spend some of the day with an artist I admire and I remembered what it feels like to be in a room with someone who feels and perceives the world acutely. That energy is absorbed, pulled back inside of me, and it renews me. Not quite the same way as big oak trees, but it's something.
I've been gone over two and half years from this place and yet still I marvel over the melon-colored skies at dawn, take pictures of the palm trees like a tourist, eat breakfast alone at a diner down the road and feel free, unjudged, able to be myself. It's a bigger world, geographically, yes, and psychically, or maybe the shape of it's different. England, for all I know, could expand downwards into layer and layers of Middle Earth, and faeries and tree folk...California expands skyward, always.
This longing is so strange. Perhaps I've done it all my life, since going away to boarding school and remembering home to be happier than it was, or when I went to California at 22 and dreamed of the Chilterns. And from the Chilterns, I dream of Laurel Canyon. And here I am in Laurel Canyon thinking about the flint and chalk and clay of home.