“I used to feel so alone in the city. All those gazillions of people and then me, on the outside. Because, how do you meet a new person? I was very stumped by this for many years. And then I realized, you could just say, “Hi.” They may ignore you. Or you may marry them. And that possibility is worth that one word.”— Augusten Burroughs
On Sunday, November 6th after a long arduous dramatic filled Saturday stuck at the airport in Berlin I finally stepped onto a Boeing 737 - destination Newark, NJ. It was early and I had spent the morning waking up to my alarm that I set to go off every 15 minutes starting at 6am. When 7am came around I arose and dressed sloppily in the Ableton sweatshirt Robert gave me and some American Apparel leggings topped off with my old worn out moccasins that I bought 5 years before in San Francisco. They are filled with holes and scuffed to death but I will never throw them out. I was too tired to care that I looked like a bag lady and also I didn’t even notice that the radio station logo emblazoned shirt that I threw on was inside out.
I was headed home. Home.
Home is a funny word because it can mean so much and nothing at all. Home to me is a weird and strange concept as I have moved so much that I don’t even know what to say when people ask me where I am from. I generally say Texas because my parents live there, but California is where I really grew up and lived throughout my awkward formative years from age 14-25 and that was also the place where I met with David and got my job offer to move to Berlin, Germany to work for SoundCloud last March.
From the moment I said “fuck yes,” I really had no clue what I was in for or what kinda ride was awaiting me. It took me less than five minutes to decide to move my entire life 6 thousand miles away to a country where I didn’t speak the language and a city where I had no clue what to expect except to know that it was generally “cool” and had the best techno clubs in the world. All I knew was that I was leaving my home or what I knew of as a home and it was not particularly hard or difficult because my concept of what home is was entirely dynamic and ever changing.
So I was headed home. To Texas first and then to San Francisco, San Diego and finally Santa Cruz to spend time with the most special people for Thanksgiving - a holiday that confuses me but that I don’t question because the food on that day is utter bliss. Never-mind the implications of the holiday - I am hungry dammit!
After an eight hour flight from Berlin to New Jersey I stepped out into the customs terminal and breathed in the stale airport air. America greeted me with girls in Ugg boots with bright green ski jackets, men with too much gel in their hair and a particularly handsy TSA agent who tested my whole body for trace evidence of explosives. I was clean.
I immediately felt a tinge of culture shock — like I did not belong, but this could also be due to the fact that I was in New Jersey and on the East Coast. I am a west coast lady through and through so landing first in the East already made me feel uneasy and I always felt awkward and out of place there anyhow. I had an hour before my next flight to Austin so I sat and read “On the Road” but my mind was wandering and I found myself eavesdropping on every conversation going on around me. For the first time eight months I could understand what people were saying to each other. I felt like my senses had been partially shut off and the “On” switch was just flipped. I listened to small talk, I listened to serious talk, I listened to baby talk, I listened to east coast accents, I listened to west coast accents and I listened to southern accents. I just listened.
At 2pm I finally boarded my packed flight headed to Austin. Exhaustion had taken hold of my entire body and the four hour flight to the South was torture as I tried to pass the time listening to NPR podcasts and Radiohead on repeat. At 6pm we touched down in Texas and I practically ran out of the plane pushing past everyone to get to the terminal — to get to freedom. Freedom from my almost twenty-four hour journey home.
Delusional I picked up my bags and walked outside and felt the moist Texas air on my skin — sitting on the curb I waited for my dad to pick me up as I thought more about the concept of home. I thought about Berlin and I thought about my eight months spent there and I realized for the first time that it felt like home. It felt like home like Austin and California feel like home. Fully and confidently I felt a connection there and it was refreshing and I guess I had to leave to feel it. I was lucky to have more than one place where I felt like that.
I smiled and put my feet up on my bags as I waited for my dad to pick me up. It was good to be home.
I will be in Texas on Saturday. I am so stir crazy right now that I am driving myself nuts. I have so much to do, it is overwhelming.
San Francisco is on my mind and now Esther is coming up for the weekend of the 18th so I will be there for longer than I expected. I am so excited I feel like it is Christmas morning and I am waiting to unwrap my presents.
17 days until California. I am counting down the days!
I will miss you Berlin, but you ain’t going nowhere!