There was only one thing I wanted to do this break: go the fuck home. I missed my family. I missed my home friends. Most of all, I missed my dog (she's amazing—she could be a therapy dog but one could argue that she's too loving). My parents picked me up at the airport with a salad waiting for me in the backseat. As we drove the long, long route from busy LAX to my cozy little suburb, I was shocked to see green.
It doesn't sound too surprising, I know. Before you just think I'm easily amazed, remember that I grew up in Southern California. During a drought. The mountains that surround by house were long barren for all of my childhood. Grass crunched and broke under my feet during hikes, trees were black and leafless, and any outdoor play looked more desert than tropical.
Driving home was a treat. Hills were lush and green, wildflowers bloomed. Home was different. It wasn't the same home I remembered.
There's something amazing about going home after being away for a long, long time. In a way, I use it to gauge my progress. Every time I return to Westlake Village I have different news to share, a different set of circumstances and challenges. I spend the two hour commute home telling my parents about how much I've changed—my role as Editor–in–Chief, my classes, my anxiety about the job search.
Since I'm gone for long chunks of time, the changes are defined. Even if I can't immediately see them in the moment, I see them when I go home. Time stops, and I can take a breather and reflect. It's eerie to return home and be in a place I lived for so long, but where I was once a completely different person. It always takes a few nights for my bed to be my bed, and sometimes, involuntarily, my anxieties from high school creep up as I get used to my home and neighborhood. Muscle memory, I guess.