Dear Mr. President,
I was riding the bus back to Seattle from my hometown today, the air conditioning turned up so high that I had goosebumps, and I realized I'd been holding my breath. Arlington is a complicated place, or, I suppose, Arlington and I have a complicated relationship. I went to high school there, and the family that I knew there, the people who became my brothers and sisters, we all wanted to get out. We went away for college. We moved, and traveled and generally scattered. Arlington may not be my home, but this group of friends always will be. They still make me feel young, even as the remind me how responsible we've become. They inspire me with the choices they make, the lives they choose, the things they accomplish. They are not the type to overlook a person's flaws, and yet, they forgive me for being me. They are my feeling of home, wherever they might be.
The face of the town has changed a lot since I lived there. I still see the faded logos of local businesses that have been around since I was a kid, but now they're ducking behind towering Best Buys and Costcos and the roads are new and wide and dark. I feel so foreign in this town, these days. I can imagine what my life would be like still living there, needing a car, having wilderness and wildlife nearby, running in to old faces from high school at the grocery store. I just don't know when my life changed so drastically to make me so out of place here.
By the time I forced myself to take one deep, trembling inhalation I was well on my way back to the city. And the rest of the trip, I-5 rolled by, anonymous, while I relived days at my first job, school dances, fights with my parents, poker games played late into the night around a kitchen table. I thought of the boys who are still my brothers, how they are men now, how they will one day be husbands and fathers and professors and writers and engineers. How I will one day be, whatever it is I'm going to be. Are we becoming what we are because we left or because of where we came from? I had begun to doubt that I would ever feel as strongly about a place as I used to feel about Arlington, when my bus finally stopped in Seattle. I remembered why I love it, why the strangers that live here feel like home to me, almost in the same way my childhood friends do. I believe they will, for the most part, forgive me, too.
For now I am going to make dinner for every one and enjoy the feeling of having so many people I love so close. It won't be like that forever. A big part of home is over in Africa, and I'm going to have to go find her, before long. I wonder, does the White House feel like home? Or is it more like living in a museum? Is Chicago still home, or Hawaii? I suppose the list of places must inevitably grow longer with the transience of certain lives, but I wonder if these are places you could imagine returning to, or if, like me, you'll never know you belonged there until you wake up one morning and don't any longer.