I stepped out of my car into the black of the night. Looking up I directed my eyes to the Southern Cross; a constellation still foreign to me, but one that I’ve dreamed of seeing since I was eleven. The air was unexpectedly warm, and the smell of the approaching summer reached my face. That moment was one of the most confusing of my life.
Not metaphorically or emotionally. It was literally confusing.
The sights in the sky were new. They were Australian. The air creeping over my skin and the scent of summer nearly here was Pennsylvania. The snap of trees and wet earth, even in the suburbs, were New York. Suddenly I had a genuine blip of confusion. Where am I? Maybe you’ve woken up at home, after months away, and had to take some time to figure out where you were. This was that feeling intensified, palpable. I’m awake. I’m here, but where is it? The uncomfortable confusion lasted just the seconds it takes to stroll down the driveway. Uncomfortable, because I felt briefly insane. Strange, because really — haven’t I wanted this for sixteen years or more?
Driving to the veg & fruit market with a friend, places flooded my brain. The dirt reminded me of Arizona, a small ridge covered in flowers was Texas, air like Pennsylvania, a house like the Dominican Republic…western New York, a certain day in New Zealand, family vacation to the Everglades. Memories, yes, but the places in those memories. The settings, the senses intrigue me. Colors. The differences in the shape of trees and the calls of local birds.
I have wanted this confusion, ached for it over the span of years. I’ve wanted to hold so many places in my head, my fingers, toes, every part of me, that I would have to stop and remember where I am. Google maps has aided me in planning more than one imaginary road trip. Travel posters, maps, brochures, and quotes about adventure covered the walls of my college dorm rooms. I’m not very brave but I know how to grow a dream. Now it’s here.