My residential history reads like an army brat version of the Twelve Days of Christmas. In thirty-one years I’ve lived in seventeen homes across fifteen cities in five states and three continents. I went to three high schools and three colleges and even though I’ve been with the same company since graduation, I’ve worked out of five offices – currently in Southern California after a six-year stint in Arizona. My greatest talents are packing five foot lamps into sixteen inch cartons and being the new kid. In fact, the closest I’ve come to having something feel like “home” was the fantastically enormous college dorm room I scored for three years in a row that I wallpapered in Absolut Ads and John Hughes’ movie posters.
My move to California has been amazing. I have a great apartment, wonderful friends, gorgeous weather, access to legitimate cultural events, and avocados everywhere I turn. So it was much to my surprise when my flight landed back in Phoenix for a long weekend at my mom’s and I found myself feeling all warm and fuzzy without my consent. What the heck is that? I assumed it was the March heat.
But then it got weirder. I began having these weird pangs when sitting on the patio having a discussion about rocks. What’s going on? Is that longing? Is it reminiscing? Am I really jealous of the brown rubble that covers the “yards” of the Arizona locals when my California home has the world’s greenest grass and, ya know, trees? I’m afraid I might be experiencing what people call nostalgia – or maybe even (shudder) homesickness.
Of course I miss my family and friends, but all of the sudden I’m missing things I never even liked the first time around. I miss sitting in a puddle of my own sweat on leather seats on a summer day. I miss seeing more Christmas lights than not when it’s already March. I miss that people use boulders as decoration. I miss having to put on a sweater when it finally gets down to 102 degrees. I miss that an Air Supply concert at the casino is the cultural event of the year. I miss the top story on the evening news being an undercover news team “staking out” a local to see if he is stealing pool water from the neighbor’s hose. I miss having a driver’s license that doesn’t expire until 2045.
I never understood why Dorothy wanted so badly to leave the land of magic poppies and lollipops and dancing lions to return to the muddy pig ranch in Kansas, but It appears I may be in her shoes.