A few weeks ago, I flew back to my hometown for the weekend. As soon as the cabin doors opened on a cool evening in Central Oregon, it smelled like home. The clean dry air carried the scents of damp juniper and a distant thunderstorm. My eyes watered, I sneezed, and that was spring in Bend to me. I hadn't been back to Bend in spring since the year I graduated from high school but that smell brought me right back to tennis tournaments, track meets, graduations and allergies.
I was in town for the town's annual Pole Peddle Paddle race and for the weekend I embraced Bend's small town culture. I skied Bachelor in May and stayed at my old elementary school that has been transformed into a hotel. I visited with friends and family and walked those same streets that were once my entire world. I tried to imagine my life if I moved back to that small town, where I might live and work, what I might do for fun. And even though I love and miss the mountain views, even though I yearn for the familiar rush of the river running through town, I can't picture a life for myself there.
When I was a kid, I struggled to picture my adult self living an adult life. Maybe every kid struggles imagining their future, but my life in Los Angeles is so vastly different from my life in Bend and maybe that's why the future was always blurry; out of focus.
Friends here in LA dream of escaping the city, moving away from all of these people and the noise to a space where there are trees and wildlife. I understand their yearnings because I miss the high desert, the cold, sweet water and the thin air. But the city is my home now and although I like to visit that other world, Los Angeles is where I belong. One gorgeous weekend in Bend confirmed that.