I Missed It All

I'm home. There's something special about coming home.

One Man Band, a live album by James Taylor, is one of my favorites of all time. I think it's the best live album ever recorded. I have listened to it so many times that I can sing every song along with him with perfect timing; even the small variations in pauses from the studio recorded version, or the extra words he throws in. 

One of James Taylor's greatest songs is Carolina In My Mind. On the live album, he says a few words to the audience about why he wrote the song before he starts to play it. It's short but one of my favorite moments of the album because it's authentic and makes the song even more nostalgic and beautiful. "I missed my home in North Carolina. I missed my dad, my dog Hercules, and my pumpkin collection -- I missed it all."

Then he strums his guitar and begins to sing about home. "In my mind I'm gone to Carolina..."

That's how I felt flying into Portland International Airport last night, like I was coming home -- reunited with all the things that I love. My home in Oregon, my dad, my dog Charlie, my book collection -- I missed it all.

Last night I got dinner with my dad and caught up on everything I missed over the last couple months. He said I look good and happy. I feel good and happy. I was even happier when I got to hang out with Charlie the Dog; he lost his mind for about five minutes when I walked inside. Jumping, running, pawing at me. We were on the same page. Dogs get it. 

This morning I drove west, from Tigard to Seaside, over the Coast Range. The road was lined with shades of green, yellow, orange, and red, and distant mountains peaked through the fog. It was cold. It was rainy. It was a perfect Oregon day. It was home.

I love Palo Alto, I love Stanford, I love the sunshine. I love school and my new friends and my program and I love walking to an outdoor flag football game in shorts and a t-shirt at 9:00pm. It's like living in a permanent vacation destination. It's a dream.

But home is home.

I was thinking about this the other day as I was driving through Menlo Park. I understand the appeal of wanting to stay there and build a life in Silicon Valley. You can't turn around without running into a cool opportunity or an event with a famous speaker. There are so many startups and tech companies and so much money. Too much money for one place, probably. There's always something happening. It really is an amazing place that fosters innovation and creativity and collaboration, and it's nestled in a corner of the world that seems to always get more than its fair share of sunshine. Everyone is busy and most people are happy. It's a dream.

But it isn't home.

Where I'm from, when liquid sunshine falls from the skies after a fiery summer, we don't groan, we rejoice. There are more rain jackets, but probably the same number of umbrellas, where I'm from. Home is greener and grayer. Home is a little further north.

It's good to be home.