I booked my flight to NY for Friday the 13th. I tried not to let the date bother me, but the weeks leading up to the trip were plagued with bad luck - my bank account was put on hold, my iPod died, and my computer has been shutting down suddenly and without warning. So I was preparing for more of the same.
My flight arrived at Newark Int'l in the middle of a rain storm, and the overcast sky seemed like an ominous sign; but almost immediately after leaving Malaysia and setting foot on US soil, things took a turn for the better. Along with the usual stern demeanor and no-nonsense questions, the immigration officer wished me a happy birthday; and when I arrived in Queens, a huge rainbow stretched over the city. [Ronnie James Dio, patron saint of gypsy heshers, and friend to Wizards everywhere: I see you up there.]
For the last few years, I've only been able to spend 3 weeks a year with the people who are important to me, and had to settle for witnessing time-lapsed versions of their lives. Friends whose weddings I attended a few years back had become expecting parents the last time I was here, and are now new parents. Younger friends who had started college when I began making these trips are now graduating. The world is moving at an alarming pace, and moving on without me.
These first days back it's hard to see what my place in the world is. I don't belong over there, and my foothold here is eroding. By the time my indeterminate stay in the jungle has finished, I may have nothing left to come back to.
But all that is to be figured out later. Today, I'm in the one place that I feel I belong, and that welcomes me back without wanting anything. The air immediately following the rain is clean and refreshing, and I breath it in deeply. The day is bright without the wearying tropical intensity I usually have to suffer through, and for the first time in 12 months I enjoy walking in the sun. I don't know how many many more of these trips I have left - but if this is the last one, then I hope every day is like this.