Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Alternate Normals, or Coming Home

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The orange blossoms blooming on my aunt and uncle's back patio drew me in the moment I stepped past the threshold. The smell was overpowering, fragrant evidence of springtime growth that is still weeks away from my home. I was encouraged to pick and consume as much citrus as I desired the few days I was there, and while I lounged in shorts and comfortable breezes we spoke of the natural resources that make any local pained to purchase. For them it is citrus, avocados, and dozens of other locally grown items. For me it is fresh, local fish.

Traveling is an interesting opportunity to examine what has become normal. Seven hours in the middle of the night left me bleary eyed and anxious, while the man a couple benches over snored contentedly at an abandoned gate as a seasoned traveler. My brother-in-law weaves in an out of Los Angeles traffic effortlessly, accelerating and breaking as other drivers dictate speed, while I drive gingerly scanning for ice, rarely dealing with traffic, much more familiar with two lane highways than five lanes in one direction.

Back in my normal, balancing three different classes, one club and a team of 150 students, I return home to a bed that welcomes me with blankets of the appropriate weight and a thermostat that reads colder than anywhere else we had been for over a week. I sleep soundly in this place, with produce that is sometimes tasteless and spring that is weeks away. But even as I revolt against an early alarm, I embrace the late sun that sets on feet of unmelted snow and slushy roads. Because even though normal means work and troubles and controversy and exhaustion, it is real. I can own it. It makes me who I am.

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