It’s hard to not feel as though I’ve failed. I wanted to take a risk, to have an adventure, and I honestly did not think I would look back much. I hoped I wouldn’t? I often wonder what was wrong with what I had, why I left in the first place, and the “wrongness” wasn’t so wrong as it was the same, and I felt the same, and I wanted to feel different, to stretch myself. And, if that were everything, I have, definitely, stretched.

I wanted a writing community. I got that. Now it is faltering, broken, unsteady. I hope, as we scatter, it will rebuild and remain strong.

I got a taste of wet, snowless winters, lavender growing all year, wild, thorny bushes, flowers blooming in February. There is also lavender everything: macaroons, lattes, hot chocolate, cookies, ice cream. There’s the scent crushed from the buds under my feet. God I will miss the lavender.

I found food here: so much food. I could eat for days: lavain and dumplings and pain au chocolat and slurpy noodles and jolting espresso. I learned to love an Americano, something I thought was always too bitter for me. Now I drink it like it’s holy.

I found air that always smells so green and alive. Knowing there is always growing gives me a hope I never experienced in snow, which nothing seemed to live through. I just barely did.

I found a place, a city, that I love, that it hurts me to leave. Seattle carried so much want and need and hope. I even found a few people whom I love very much.

I guess what I didn’t find (yet) is community: that all-enveloping support from all sides, the years that are put in to friendships and intentional space. I could probably get it here, eventually. After years. But, why wait when I already have it, when I can feel the power of it even from here, just from reaching out and saying, “I’m coming home.”

I worry, though. I know that when I return, the first few months will be glory: summer and friends and lakes and re-learning all my places. Then what? When fall and winter come, will I feel just as restless? Will I want to leave? If I leave again, can I ever come back? How many chances do I get in a life?

I’m trying to think of it less as “going back” and more just as “going” and “bringing” and “sharing” the things I’ve learned and “reveling” in the things I’ve missed and “giving” my energy to the people I love and whose love I cherish. I don’t want to return to Minneapolis and try to “forget” Seattle ever happened. At first, I did. After NILA announced its closing, all I wanted was to forget, to pretend I’d never even heard of Whidbey Island. But that would be doing a huge disservice to the NILA community, to this year of growth, to this opportunity I took.

I love Seattle. I am already thinking how I’ll miss it. I love Minneapolis. I’ve already missed it for way too long. Somehow, in some way, there has to be room for both.

4 thoughts on “Thoughts on “Going Back”

  1. Seattle is beautiful. But in my heart, you belong in Minneapolis. It is your home. It is where your people are. It is where you love. It is where you became who you are. It is where you found love and acceptance and life. You are not a failure. You are coming home. There is a lot to be said for that.

  2. Lauren,
    A part of me is nervous to even begin to write to you. One comment I remember you making about the notes I used to send to you on our shared Braille and Speak was that my Braille had a lot of mistakes.
    I’m glad you caught those mistakes. I’m glad that you cared. I’m overjoyed at the meaning that language has in your life and the skill with which you wield it. Your imagery is powerful to point of transporting me to a place I have never been and your emotion in your writing is contagious enough that I actually miss that place. Whatever you are losing by leaving Seattle behind, what you have gained by being there is immeasurable. Your ability to absorb and capture the elements around you, which may seem mundane to others, but are profound in your memory tells me that every day, every hour, every minute you spent there will live with you and contribute its part to the tapestry of your words.

    I almost deleted this, so if it sounds silly to you, just pretend I did.

    I hope to see you this summer. Take care of yourself.

    1. Thank you so much, Will. And Wow, I’m so sheepishly sorry I was such a bratty kid.
      This was the loveliest, most thoughtful and articulate comment. I’ll never forget you left it. (smile)

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