This is the first time I’ve been across the Rockies (or indeed west of the Mississippi) in over 20 years. I’d forgotten how much I love the West. Many of my favorite childhood memories (and not a few dark ones) come from times we were ‘way out west.’

Sitting in the plane on the way home, looking over the snow shrouded mountains below, feeling the same peculiar conflict as when I returned from England 6 years ago. It shouldn’t be possible to be homesick for a place you’ve never lived, yet Washington holds my heart as ever. I’m sick and weary, eager to return to my own beloved house and pups and son. But there’s a not-insignificant part of me wishing I could somehow transplant that whole life, entire, to the state I long to be in. A place where everything I am, and everything I care about makes sense and fits. A place that felt like home the minute I stepped off the plane, and continued to do so from tiny back-country Centralia to Seattle, a city I could grow quite foolishly fond of.

The trip itself was more-or-less delightful. It was a pleasure to help, in my small way, our friends start their life as a married couple. To share with my own husband a certain amount of nostalgia and reminiscence from our own wedding, with friends who are effectively family. I was also given the opportunity to get to know the bride better, and become closer to her, and unexpected delight. Her family practically adopted me as well, for better or worse, and that brought its own sense of homecoming, as well as new friends.

I’ve only flown over the Rockies once before, as a tiny child too young to remember. I didn’t realize quite how beautiful they were from the air, snow-covered and tree-adorned. Folds of land rising out of vast snowfields laid out below.

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Aside from the wedding preparations, I was also able to have some small geocaching adventures, and visit with my father’s brother. Neither of us has much contact with my dad, so it was nice to reconnect with what’s left of that side of my family. As well as with his land, of which I have nothing but amazing memories from childhood. My memories of his bit of peninsula have fueled my love of Washington for 20 years, and it hasn’t changed much in that time, remaining as beautiful and wild as ever in most parts.

The final piece of our trip was our one half a day in Seattle, on Martin Luther King Day. We couldn’t visit much, but we walked around the Pike Place Market, and then down 2nd to the International District (Chinatown). Along the way we ran into a MLK Day Rally, and listened to one of the speakers, a young black woman full of fire and passion, out to change the world. I don’t know her name, and was too far back to see her face clearly, but her voice sticks with me even now.

The trip is nearly over, but the wheels set in motion turn onward, bringing me closer to a return to the place I’m meant to be. One day, one hour, one step at a time.

Time to get on the last flight.

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