It's wonderfully dreary and rainy and cold out right now. It's one of those dark mornings where you pull on an old sweatshirt and put on some music you haven't listened to in a while. The lights in the house are all warm and glowy, against the gloomy morning sky.
This kind of weather is the only thing I missed when I lived in California. Sometimes it was hard to wake up every day to such a sparkly string of endlessly sunny days. Some days I yearned for mornings such as these, mornings that lend themselves to a careful and retreating sense of self.
I've been missing Los Angeles a lot these days. I know I keep saying that, but I can feel it in my bones. I get these flashes of being in my car at a certain intersection, of coming home from the grocery store or the bank, the palm trees swaying high up in the warm breeze above, little mundane memories of a life immersed in a different place.
The trees are blowing in the wind outside right now and I can literally feel fall coming. That sense of change was something missing from my time in Southern California. But still, I miss that place. I miss the smell of the ocean through the screens, the quacking of ducks on the canals, the broad boulevards and the 1950s architecture.
I've been thinking a lot about what it means to miss a place. I missed New York something fierce when I move to LA. I missed it in the same way I now miss Los Angeles. I thought about it at night as I was going to sleep, about the sidewalks and the buildings, about the tree that shimmered outside my living room window in the East Village. I thought about certain streets I was fond of walking up, about my favorite deli where I bought milk and flowers. I thought about the old characters who lived on my street -- Ed who tended to his giant wooden sculpture in the community garden around the corner and the tattooed bartenders at the smoky bar on the corner where I sometimes played pinball in the afternoons.
What does it mean to miss a place? Does it detract from where you are right now? Does it mean that the life you're living is any less steeped in meaning and depth? Will it always be this way, as I move from place to place in my life? Sometimes I try to imagine what it will be like to one day miss Chicago, to yearn for the crisp fall days, the comforting brownstones and tree-lined streets, the wide, green lake and the sound of the train going by.
What does that mean? Did I feel as conscious of these places when I was actually in them? Or is it something about memory? Or something even deeper, something about the heart and where it lives?