I flew to Roanoke instead of Charlotte last week and connected in Philly. It takes all day to fly from the West Coast to the East Coast because it's at least five hours if you get a direct flight, but if you want to fly into Roanoke, Virginia then you have to stop somewhere else and put your bag under the plane and climb aboard a tiny little prop that only seats 34 people. Because "home," wherever that is, didn't feel far enough away already.
The plane bounced us around through the chilly night as we descended over the Blue Ridge Mountains; and even though it was dark outside, the moment the plane door opened I knew that I had made it to fall in Roanoke--the most magical time of the year with yellow leaves, the smell of autumn and campfire smoke, and chilly wet sidewalks. It feels like home.
I wore jeans and sweaters and my mom's Uggs, which I always do whenever I'm visiting. They're way cuter than mine because she never wears them. (I've had a pair for years and they're one of the few shoes I own that Ender hasn't shown any interest in eating.) I met my friend Raquel for tacos and margaritas and walked around the Barnes & Noble, which always reminds me of winters in Roanoke, no matter the season.
And then I arrived in Charlotte and immediately felt disoriented--walking through Trader Joe's for baby shower supplies and stopping suddenly at the eggs, because I always need eggs, right? But when you're staying with a friend and flying home on Tuesday morning then no, you don't need eggs (or Brussels sprouts, no matter how beautiful they look).
I spent one night at my friend Siobhan's house and a few with my friend Corri, and felt so weird every time I climbed into someone's car to catch a ride to a place I've been to a million times. Not Just Coffee, the Vietnamese restaurant, Sabor for tacos, Hygge to teach a SkillPop class. All of it still feels like my neighborhood.
I saw a guy in a Panthers tee shirt on Saturday and did a double-take. I just moved here from Charlotte, I wanted to tell him. But "here" actually was Charlotte, at that moment, and for what feels like so long before it.