I know I’ve said it before, but truly, the best thing about leaving is coming home.

The entire year that I lived in London, I longed for the ocean. I used to run by the Thames as a very sad substitute, but that only seemed to make it worse. When coming home after a particularly long stint away, I actually had tears in my eyes as I looked out at the brown hills over San Francisco. “This,” I said to myself, “is my home.”

Luckily I wasn’t gone long enough this time to get very homesick. But still, going away for even two weeks makes me see all that I take for granted in a new light. For example, one week ago, I was lying here:

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Don’t get me wrong, it was every bit as fabulous as it looks. But tonight, I went for a run about 20 vertical feet from the ocean. I felt it on my skin, breathed it in with every gulp of air that I took. Best part is, that entire run occurred no further than half a mile from my house. At night, I lie in bed and hear the waves crash on the shore, accompanied by the joyous song of the sea lions. To me, that is worth more than any vacation I could ever take.

Ironically, of course, I would never realize that truth without having left in the first place. Thus I have spent my life in an elliptical orbit around this town, at times moving closer, at time pulling away. Yet always, I come home. And really, who can blame me?

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