Some people live in Seattle because family does. Others, because family does not.
I'm afraid I fall into the second category. Like most East Coast transplants, I live among friends, and over time what happens is friends become more like family than family.
I chose Seattle because it seemed the best the world had to offer: clean air, picturesqueness, liberal minds and, unlike most coastal cities, a home I could afford (mind you, this was 20 years ago). The first time I saw Elliott Bay, the evening sun coloring its sky, I thought, "Another life is behind me now, and I'm finally home!"
That's why it's difficult to put a name to what I feel of late, something blurred in the center of me. It's not intentional, but it's not really unconscious either. Other thoughts flow around it.
It's as if I'm in-between, well, not homes exactly, but home-imaginings. Some might call it nostalgia; others, yearning. All I know is that, without a clue as to what the sentiment is, I sit at my desk trying to describe to the un-afflicted how it feels to have a sort of homing impairment.
The Portuguese have a word for it: saudades - a sense of memory for something that may not even exist, yet you long for it all the same. Oh, great, I thought, knowing how I can agonize things inferred or perceived but, still, hurt so bad.
I envy those rooted in the Northwest, who don't seem to go into shock, like I do, when the rainy-gray winter comes. In their company I feel I live here, yes, but I am not of here.
And when I recently read that home becomes a place you come to hate as much as you love, how I resisted those words, unwilling to apply them to me.
But we can't choose our feelings, can we? We can hide them (though I'm not too good at that) but not select.
Part of the answer, I think, is a reason other than my background, aside from my sun cravings, and in spite of my restlessness: I am a byproduct of a free and privileged society blessed with a dizzying array of choices. The downside of this blessing is that there is always some new want, ever elusive, that entices. And because I have the freedom to extend, I suspect my imagination tends to stretch beyond measure, outpacing the reality of where I am with the desire of where I want to go.
So it looks as though I'll be faced with this home-befuddlement for some time to come. Because it occurs to me this may be nothing other than one of life's transitions forever taking me by surprise. That I may simply need to brace myself, as if between waves, and hold steady.
And given a choice between eternity or a temporary passage, I'll gratefully go with the latter.