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A Gemini sense of home

August 17, 2018

This past weekend, I visited my home town for the first time in four years. The visit generated—or perhaps simply released—unexpected emotions. When I first purchased my plane tickets, I couldn’t wait to go “home.” Then a slew of invitations to do fun things in Billings during the weekend I would be gone dampened my enthusiasm such that I drove to the Billings-Logan International Airport with a mixture of excitement and regret.

When I arrived at the University Park Airport in State College on Friday night, I still felt a measure of regret at having chosen to spend one of the last of my summer weekends in Pennsylvania instead of Montana, where I could have gone mountain biking, played volleyball, practiced acrobatic yoga, and helped friends herd cattle. As soon as I exited the airport terminal, an equally strong regret of having not been able to bring my children with me to PA surfaced upon seeing the flickering lights of fireflies dancing across the forests and fields that blanket Centre County; Libby and Paige would have so loved to run about catching these glow-in-the-dark bugs that are elusive in Montana.

Over the course of the weekend, as I relished in old friendships and the green, moist beauty of central PA, my regrets at having chosen State College over Billings faded (although I still dearly missed my children). By Monday afternoon, when I was supposed to pack up and return to Montana, I wasn’t disappointed at all to receive a text message from United informing me that a leg of my return flight had been canceled (due to “traffic control conditions,” whatever that means) and that I would instead be placed on an early-morning flight the next day. I had one more night to converse with Dr. Yapa and to watch the lightning bugs emerge and take over the lawn, trees, and bordering stream bed like twinkling Christmas lights—and to take some photos that I hadn’t bothered to take up until I was granted an extended opportunity to capture PA’s beauty so I could show it off to my husband and children across the country.

When I awoke at 5AM for my flight and noticed a message from my husband, I realized my dilemma in responding to him: how does one say she will shortly be on her way home when she is also leaving home? I ended up avoiding the word altogether and simply texted that I would soon be on my way back to Montana.

As my flight from State College to Dulles departed, I was surprised to find my eyes welling up with tears. The last time I flew out of State College, it ended up being four years before I returned. How long will it be this time? While my plan in my mind is to bring my girls and, hopefully, my husband next summer so they can get to know the people and places that I loved for two decades of my life (and still love to this day), I can’t know now whether I will be able to do so or not. It could be another four years or more before—if—I ever get back.

It is a somewhat melancholy feeling to have such deep, meaningful relationships to both the land and people in two distinct places—especially when you are the only entity connecting those two places. My husband has never been to central PA or met any of my friends there, nor has my youngest daughter. Although my oldest daughter was with me at a dear friend’s wedding four years ago, she was too young to remember it, or anyone. And none of my friends from PA have yet made it out to Montana, so they only know of my life here through my stories and Facebook posts. I feel a longing for these two worlds to meld together: for my daughters to experience the place where I grew up—to roll in thick, soft grass and catch lightning bugs like I did as a child, to play with my girlfriends’ children, and to get to know the people who helped to shape me—as well as for my friends “back home” to see and experience my current world in Montana—to attend a powwow, to hike in snow-capped mountains, to ride across the prairie and feel awe at the vastness of a land uncovered by dense forests and foliage.

On the one hand, I feel a desire to have my two worlds become one. Yet on the other, the Gemini in me enjoys having two worlds to straddle, in having parts of me that are only known to certain people in certain places, and other parts of me that are a mystery to those people in those places.

It’s a curious feeling I harbor now as I fly across the country on my flight between Dulles and Denver, leaving one world to return to another. I realize that due, in part, to my many addresses, my world travel, and my tendency to ruminate more than talk, only God and myself, and a few select people who have conversed with me at length about my ruminations, really know me very well. It is simultaneously a saddening feeling and an exhilarating feeling.

Somehow, I am both a person who longs for and relishes deep connections with others but who also finds a sense of personal intimacy in not being fully known to others. During many moments of my life, it’s just me and God, and I like those moments. I feel deeply rooted in myself and my beliefs no matter where I am in the world, and it must be that feeling that enables me to thrive even when I’m far away from people I dearly love—which happens to be an everyday experience for me.

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One Comment
  1. I think you’d love spending some time with writer/speaker/teacher Brene Brown if you haven’t already.

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