We’ve got a thing about places. She said. Actually she said that our friend said, which is often how it goes these day in our extended make-shift community. But as usual, the community was right.
Places, for me, have always been more than just the clouds above my head and the dirt beneath my feet. They have been dreams. They have been metaphors and microcosms and a history of my soul. They have been pegs on which to hang hope and fear and my heart by its strings. Longing for places is longing for pieces of myself, and looking back at them is a narration of my past.
Albion was Purgatory. The place of perpetual waiting, sometimes smacking of heaven and other times of hell, and more than anything like being on hold on a telephone with ambiguous smooth jazz music playing endlessly, only interrupted periodically by a calming voice assuring us that we, like our call, are very important.
London was a breath of fresh air. It was a sense of self after the sophomore slump, and a place that gave me the feeling of purpose and belonging I spent much of the rest of four years without. To this day London is my favorite place in the world – London is (Hummingbird) Red Velvet cupcakes with cream cheese frosting – because I was doing things I loved, surrounded by people I understood, and free to be myself. Even when I came back again it sheltered me, wrapped me up in a furry brown blanket, and assured me everything would be ok.
Rome was… ancient. And constant. Everything about that place can be summed up by one night I remember in particular. A person who meant much more than five months and I were walking through St. Peter’s Square one evening like we often did because it was the midway point between our two apartments. We were reflecting on the complications and trials in our lives – on the meaning of life and the meaning of death – and there, standing in the background, listening, was The Vatican. Hundreds of Hundreds of tons of stone and gold and some of the most incredible paintings on earth, and even the cobblestones beneath us were hundreds of years old. How many other lives – how much other pain, how much other fear, and how many other tears have fallen down faces and landed on those stones. And still it stands, quietly, reminding us that time will go on.
Paris was Joy. I’ve been only twice, and no more than 48 hours each time, but they were each beautiful ellipses, fantastic escapes. Whether exploring the left bank myself with a hand-crafted soundtrack or riding home piggyback and barefoot on the first metro of the morning, laughing about games in shady hotels and clubs on boats while the earlybirds drank their coffee and rolled their eyes. Paris was (someone else) running across the Champs-Elysee to meet me at the Arc de Triomphe, it was getting fantastically lost with nowhere I needed to be, and happening upon Versailles on a rare day when the fountains were turned on and music played from the trees.
And of course New York. New York is a place I can hardly describe in one line or one paragraph; in fact I know I have written entire entries about its significance to me, and I know there is still much more to say. It belonged to my father and I. To exploration and discovery, to celebration and indulgence, to wonder and mystery and childhood and growing up. To me and the man I have always adored. Then it became an escape. It became the place I would hide my soul, leaving it is suitcases and dirty rooms, reclaiming it when I came to feel alive. And it still belonged to exploration and discovery, to celebration and indulgence, to mystery and growing up and to men whom I adored, but it also came with romances, jealousies, and with all the worst parts of three broken people weaving themselves together.
There were placing with best-supporting-roles too. Morocco was strength. That day we almost got lost in the tanneries, and that boy kept yelling Not that way not that way you stupid American girls until we finally heard him and we ran the other direction – together. Madrid was being reunited, the Costa del Sol was being free. Ann Arbor, Florida (it was always worth it), and Cedar Point were FUN! when we used to have to leave the world behind to find that. And even Farmington, in cocktail dresses at Christmas, is a beautiful feeling of its own.
Now there is a new location. No not California. Oddly enough, this is one of the least emotionally charged places I have ever seen (or created in my head and heart), and I’m finding its meaning in one word – Summer.
The place I mean is Massachusetts. The lobster obsession began in the 5th grade when I visited Cape Cod and continues recently with my current closet filled with nautical accessories. It’s a peculiar place to love as I’ve only been enough times to fill one hand, and hardly more than a month if you added them all together. I find myself longing for Massachusetts like I would a person – a lover, a friend, someone you miss so much they make a black hole in your heart you can feel threatening to swallow you up. There’s a past there – an important one to be sure – but that’s hardly why it’s creating a hole in my heart. Massachusetts – Boston more specifically – has become the place I hang my hopes. So much I want for my future is there, or I can see it there when I close my eyes and pretend I’m not in a cubicle doing paperwork. My dream job at the company I’ve loved for years is there, and I’m so close I can taste it. I read someone’s blog today about her first day at work there and it made me know that’s where I belong. The city lights me up, like a place must with me, and even the land west of there reminds me of all the things I love about Michigan (without most of the things I don’t). There are some people I know, there or close – some people I may see and even have at my dinner parties. There are also people I don’t know; I’m not sure which is more exciting, and I don’t have any interest in deciding that now (even I don’t plan that much). Every day at work when I see an address in Massachusetts or a company based it Boston my stomach drops or my heart sings, and I say to myself in seven months I will be there.
My heart is aflame, my aim is true, and whether I end up in the state of Massachusetts (MA) or just the state Massachusetts I will be there soon, and I can’t wait.
“Dreams are today’s answers to tomorrow’s questions.” – Edgar Cayce