Some of you know this and some of you don't: I am actually Californian.
Although in the past few years it's grown harder to understand what that actually means, other than a fiendish love for Mexican food and pale skin that I have slowly taught how to tan.
This past week I spent the rest of our Christmas vacation staying in Orange County with my father and stepmother.
As we drove the huge streets I kept asking, 'is this home.' With all it's cookie cutter shopping malls and six lane streets full of nice cars Orange County didn't connect with me now, anymore than it did when I was younger.
We visited my mom for a day in San Diego. Our lunch at a taco stand on the beach felt more like home. This was something I can get behind; fish tacos and the ocean, what's not to love? As we played with Emma in the sand I felt an almost tangible ache, sorry Massachusetts, but your beaches aren't the same.
This was our last week of vacation so in preparation for it I kept telling Emma that soon we would get on a plane and, 'go home to Boston.' I found myself tripping over the words a bit. Is Boston really home?
Our flight home consisted of a stop in San Francisco and then on to Logan. I love the San Francisco airport. I feel like you can often tell the nature of a city by it's airport. SFO always has art exhibits in the halls that go from terminal to terminal and the restaurants are great. Not a McDonalds in sight, and Peet's Coffee rather than Starbucks. John Wayne Airport in Orange County? Clean, new, deliberately plannned, and full of Starbucks and restuarants with the latest food trends. Apparently frozen yogurt and hot dogs are back.
As we bustled past an art exhibit on classic TV towards our Gate I wondered if I had city envy. I am beginning to wonder if you don't get to pick your 'home.' As I visited friends from college last week I heard an echo of discontent as to where they had landed. Several in LA and one in Orange County. They were in these cities in seeming happenstance; stayed after graduate school, next to a job that they liked, a convenient living situation with Grandpa and like a lobster in a pot they are slowly getting used to it.
I picked a soup restuarant for dinner and got chicken tortilla soup and a sourdough roll for dinner. I smirked as I noticed my water cup was made from potato starch. I went back to our gate to wait and sent my husband out to get his own dinner. In a few minutes he came back with a large compost-able looking to go container.
"What did you get?"
"A burrito," he said as he unfolded a glorious looking chicken burrito with chips, salsa, and a salad. I could have kicked myself, as order envy sank in I said,
"I thought you were going to come back with some kind of asian noodle dish."
"Yeah, that's what I wanted but I didn't see that restuarant until I ordered this." I laughed,
"I did the exact same thing, I ordered the soup and then saw that Mexican restuarant after I had paid." My last shot at really good Mexican food and I get soup. I consoled myself that burritos were heavy and I shouldn't eat something so heavy before getting on a plane. Why? I don't know, but it sounded good in my head.
"Why do we always live in places where I can't get good Mexican food?" I ask Scott.
"It's your cross to bear," and he hands me a tub of salsa and motions to his chips, I help myself, of course.
When we got off the plane in Logan I kept asking myself, 'Is this it? Is this home? What do I connect to here?'
The first shop we see off the plane? A Dunkin Donuts. I don't particularly like donuts, and their coffee is pretty sorry. Oh well, their bagels are good. A friend picks us up and we make a deliberate stop at a Starbucks on the way home.
As we drove through wintery leafless landscapes to our door, I kept asking myself the same question. Oddly enough I have grown to love the seasons. Our 77 degree week in Orange County felt a little wrong for January. (Not to look a gift horse in the mouth, it was nice to be warm.)
Yesterday as we put away our Christmas loot I couldn't remember where our utility drawer was in our kitchen. When I went to use the bathroom? I couldn't remember which switch was the light. We have only lived here six months.
This morning when we went for a walk my daughter danced in circles and sang,
"We are home! We are home!"
Maybe home is just what you make it. Our family isn't here, so we make friends our family. The beaches here are small and cold, but they are beaches, and after being landlocked for a season that is pretty great. Scott likes his job. I have already made mom friends. To be honest the North Shore isn't exactly ugly.
Maybe I will grow to love Dunkin Donuts....