There was no parking on the good side. I was pretty certain there wouldn’t be. By the time Zoe picked me up and whisked me away from the cesspool that is LAX, by the time we drove back to my tiny bungalow, by the time we sat parked in the driveway chatting and catching up – me recounting stories from the long weekend spent getting reacquainted with my childhood home of Anchorage, Alaska – and by the time I’d deposited my bags inside the dark, quiet one bedroom, it was past eight-thirty. Well after most of my neighbors would have returned from work and claimed all of the good street spots.


I drove around for a few minutes anyway, vainly hoping I’d get lucky, but there was nothing to be found. Not for many blocks, and not on any of the streets that I deemed ‘safe.’ Ah, the beauty of L.A., with its sketchy neighborhoods rubbing elbows with the swanky ones. Just a block or so south of my Beverly Hills-adjacent Orthodox Jewish hood and a girl could run into trouble in the form of pawn shops and liquor stores and the questionable characters who hovered outside of them. No thanks.

So I gave up and returned home, setting an alarm on my phone as a reminder to move my car early the next morning for street cleaning. I scanned my apartment with weary eyes, suddenly feeling colder than I had during the nearly two-hour walk I’d taken with my sister Marion around Anchorage’s Westchester Lagoon, blanketed as it was in snow and ice. I surveyed the fridge – empty – and leafed through a stack of mail containing mostly bills and credit card applications, and mercifully, one honest to goodness greeting card filled with holiday cheer in the form of metallic gold Christmas tree confetti, a card that peeked out from the pile of useless papers like a tiny beacon of hope.

I eyed my suitcase with dread, not wanting to settle in, not ready to unpack. Should I open my computer and catch up on work email? Oh please, not yet. With no good options, I picked up the phone and ordered takeout from the Indian restaurant down the street. As I buttoned my coat and slung a scarf around my neck on the way out to grab dinner, I consoled myself with the thought that in just one week, I’d be getting on a plane again, away from here. Away from this place that had once held so much promise – a new life, a fresh start, a home all my own – but a place that, though it was filled up with all my stuff, had somehow managed to grow foreign, distant, and sterile.


These days, I like myself better when I’m away. There’s an energy that comes from toting my carry-on through the terminal, from rushing to meet my gate, from airport coffeehouses and bars and bookstores, from arrivals and departures. From checking in. And yes, from checking out. I like the pulse of travel, the pace of it. The sights and smells of different places fill me, inspire me. As long as I keep moving, I’m OK. It’s when I stop, when I settle, when I find myself in this place where I no longer know what to do with myself, that I start thinking about the big, ‘what am I doing with my life?’ question, and things suddenly become much more difficult.

I’m adrift. I don’t like where I am, but I don’t know where to go. I know that my current residence, the overpriced one bedroom bungalow at the corner of sketch and swank, is no longer right for me. Strange that when it came into my life just ten months ago, it was exactly what I needed: a quiet place with a sun-warmed patio that wrapped me up like a cozy blanket and sheltered me through a terrible life transition. But now, no amount of cleaning or decorating or incense-burning will change the fact that I’ve outgrown it. And so, with two months left on my lease, I find myself asking, ‘What now?’

I crave home like you wouldn’t believe. A safe place with a soft pillow to rest my head. A cushy, overstuffed sofa to collapse into at the end of a long, satisfying day. A secure, off-street parking spot (never more attractive than now). And yes, someone to share it with, to laugh with, to tell me in a voice that I’ll actually believe, that everything is going to be OK.

I guess I’ve landed on it. It’s not so much the place I’m looking for, as it is the way I’ll feel – the life I’ll live – inside of that place. Home is where the heart is, right? For me, that’s an eye roll-inducing cliché that’s also, irritatingly, true. Home is where the heart is. The problem is, ever since my heart was broken, I no longer know how to find it.

So for now, I’m living a life of not settling in. I’m making plans for the short-term. I’m thinking big but skimping on specifics. And every time it all becomes too much, I get the hell out of town. I’m sure I can’t keep doing this forever. But for right now, it makes sense. For right now, ‘away’ is simply the best place I can think of to be.

Until next time, friends.



Today marked my fourth time in an airport in eight days. That sounds like a lot, though one of those was an ill-fated trip to LAX resulting in my flight to New Orleans being cancelled because of an ice storm.

I’ve always loved spending time in airports.  They’re like portals to other worlds.  People coming and going.  Rushing through them to make a connection, stalled in them due to weather delays.  When I myself am not rushing to make a flight, I like to find a spot to sit and people watch, to daydream about complete strangers and make up stories about them.  There’s the distinguished, well-dressed man on a business trip, the college student headed off for adventures abroad, the lovers saying their last goodbyes.  Strangers I’ll never see again, save for a brief glance, a few pleasantries exchanged in an airport bar or a coffee shop, a laugh over something awkward in the security line.  And then gone forever.  Just a moment in time.

And then there’s me.  In the last 16 months I’ve logged more than my fair share of frequent flier miles.  Given my propensity to daydream whole lives about people I’ve never met, I’ve wondered if there’s someone out there who’s done the same thing about me.  The sad, pretty girl dressed in black, polite but not conversational, hiding out in a quiet corner of the bar nursing a glass of red wine.  The girl who looks like she’s trying not to cry.  You see, I’ve embarked on many sad voyages over the last year plus, and the artist in me hopes to God that something beautiful has come out of my grief.  That some daydreaming stranger – like this daydreaming stranger – saw me and wrote it down, in a poem, in a song, in a story.

I have been actively trying not to be sad.  Really, I have.  I just haven’t been able to help it.  The twisted irony is that someone who loves travel and airports as much as I do has had more opportunities to travel than ever before, but in a case of be careful what you wish for, these trips have often been necessitated by tragedy.  I’ve traveled to spend time with dying relatives.  I’ve bid farewell to both of my parents, and to my last remaining grandmother.  I’ve attended three memorials, and made many more trips to do impossibly hard jobs, to lend moral support to loved ones, and to in turn seek out my own support.

Most of these trips have been back to the Pacific Northwest:  my home, my heart, a region of the country that I love more than anywhere in the world.  But even happy trips – summer in Vancouver to celebrate my sweet Niece’s high school graduation, Christmas with my Aunt and Uncle and my beloved Grandfather in a small waterfront nook in Western Washington, have been tinged by heartache.  I do not want to be the sad girl who cries in airports, but more often than not, I have been.

Which brings me to today:  February 1, 2014.  I made a New Year’s resolution (really, more like a vow to myself) that I would travel to three places I’d never been, and an additional resolution that none of these trips would involve tears.  So far, so good.  An amazing trip to New Orleans – despite two cancelled flights due to insane weather – to celebrate my sister Marion’s birthday is already in the books.  And more fun ideas (like taking my first trip to Montreal to visit my niece, who’s in school there) are in the works.

I have no idea what lies ahead.  But I do know that in spite of my many sad voyages, the wanderlust in my heart has never died, and the desire to spend time daydreaming in airports  and making up stories about the travelers in those transitory portals hasn’t gone away.  I would like more stamps in my passport.  I would like more adventure in my life.  And I would like a hell of a lot less crying in airports.  That is, of course, unless they’re tears of joy.

Until next time, friends.

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