Some people might think it's a curse. It's whatever was placed upon me at birth that turns me into a screaming witch if I am in one place for six months without leaving. When I return, I always am happy to be back--for six more months. Then the edges of my life begin to fray again and I have to go away.
It doesn't have to be a long absence, but it does have to include at least a couple of nights in another city, another region, another country. Somehow that works a strange magic on my discontent and when I come home, I feel grateful for familiar things that had grated on me before I left.
Yesterday after five days of being away from home, I walked to meet a friend for a glass of wine at a cozy little cafe that feels French to me. The tables are cheek-to-jowl close but every conversation is its own little realm with secure borders. A glass of wine becomes two, but never more than that, and the talk is always absorbing.
The street that takes me there is bordered with trees and yesterday they were in full autumn color, flaring with orange, scarlet, and gold. The air was crisp and almost cold and suddenly I was in an East Coast city, savoring fall.
There were new photographs that evoked Grimm's Fairy Tales at a gallery along the way, childhood scenes that were startlingly bright and hauntingly eerie. To clear my palate after that jolt to my imagination, I stopped for the first time at a Catholic chapel that was designed to evoke the cave sanctuaries where early Christians found refuge and spiritual solace. At least that's the way St. Ignatius felt to me, perhaps not to its architect.
I love finding a new dimension to the city I've spent many years in, but this only happens after I've abandoned it for a while. I'm lucky. Although I'm a perennial Prodigal Daughter, Seattle always welcomes me home.