People enjoyed telling me where they were from. How they abandoned the unfortunate weather and super-stressed people to live in an expensive, yet undeniably exotic, locale. After days of conferencing, staring at the Pacific, hiking and shopping, I found myself deep within a pout as M dropped me off with hugs and kisses and I ill-temperedly rolled my suitcase toward the agricultural screening point.
I found a spot at the airport bar, drinking a glass of wine fast enough that I felt pleasantly tipsy. Smiling when I wondered if there were any Care Bears to purchase, I wandered back through the humidity to my gate and waited to board my lengthy flight home.
Some 16 hours and two layovers later, I hurt. Whimpering softly on my third and final flight, muscles that had been massaged into happiness the previous day were distinctly angry at the moment. Feeling my stomach burn from a surfeit of diet soda, I focused on my novel and yawned one more time. My parents picked me up and I stretched as they offered hugs and kisses before I settled in the heated seat of the Jeep.
"I need to sleep," I mumbled after trying to catch up and realizing I was unable to follow conversations. "Wake me up by noon, please. Have to work." I called as I moved slowly upstairs, sighing blissfully as I curled into my mattress and pillows. It was difficult to get up and go to work for a lengthy meeting, but I made it.
I sat at my desk, arranging familiar files and items and smiled. Much as I'd been dreading my return, it was shockingly lovely to be back. I grinned widely when visitors continued to appear at my door, catching up and offering apologies for my appearance and thinking speed. I contributed to the meeting, standing several times to stretch sore muscles and avoid drifting to sleep.
"I'm useless," I warned when Adam attempted to ask questions upon the meeting's completion. "I need to go home. Eat. Sleep." He patted my shoulder, told me drive carefully and I soon made my way home.
I woke several times as late afternoon shifted into evening and darkness finally fell. Each surface from sleep held momentary confusion, but I came to enjoy the joyful glow that appeared when I realized I was home. That the warm weight at my side was Chienne and that there were plenty of pillows to cuddle as I slipped into sleep again.
The grass is a vibrant green and the spring bulbs have begun to bloom. There are people I know and love and the comfort of familiarity. So despite leaving paradise, I'm utterly thrilled to be back where I belong.
(I think, in my defenselessly tired state, I agreed to travel east rather extensively in May and June. But I'll try to wiggle out of that later.)