I want to tell the man following me around the library to move somewhere with more to look at. I’m telling you, pal, there are places so beautiful you’ll feel compelled to adjust your junk more than you do at the sight of a broad with wet hair wearing purple basketball shorts. Seriously, though, I understand it’s hot, that your balls might be pasted to the side of your leg, or that you accidentally put on a pair of undies this morning from twenty pounds ago, but you don’t need to look right at me while you’ve got your privates in your hand, thank you very much.
I live in a place where you can tell who the envy of the neighborhood is by finding the straightest mow lines in the grass. The plants are all strategically placed, as though Mother Nature Herself couldn’t be trusted with the arrangements. People are outside pulling invaders from their precious gardens, forgetting that sometimes weeds bear the prettiest flowers.
All the license plates are the same. No one comes here for vacation on purpose, which would tell me it’s not a place to live. What’s there to see besides the city, a place that certainly looked way cooler in its original form? I imagine a swamp, with its tall grasses and waist-deep water, rich with flora and wildlife, replaced by a city filled with a different kind of wild.
I can’t express how much it sucks to be home. Of course there is beauty here, if you look hard enough. At night the fireflies come out. Children catch them in their cupped palms and adults remember when they did the same. Some assholes step on them and smear their fluorescent insides across the concrete. The trees are tall and old, planted equidistant from each other on suburban streets. If you’re willing to drive far enough, there’s a tall grass prairie in Wilmington, beautiful sandstone rock formations in Utica, and a botanical garden filled with plants from around the world in Glencoe.
There’s something different about mountains, though, about their ability to make you feel big and small at the same time. As generic as it sounds, I feel as though I found myself in the heat of the desert, felt at home amongst the colorful rocks and blue skies. I think about driving down a dirt road filled with jackrabbits at various stages of life, about a herd of free mountain goats chewing on dry bushes at Zion National Park.
I’m home. I walk outside, and the weather is nice and all, but rather than mountains I see two hundred foot tall power lines in the distance. There is a gas station at every corner and just as many McDonalds. People swerve around potholes, the only depressions in the otherwise completely flat land. And if I had a word for this feeling, it would be something like dissatisfied, except deeper, deeper even than deep dissatisfaction.
And so, home for the foreseeable future, I need to remember what it’s like to be somewhere else. I’ve got over twenty pages of journal entries from our trip waiting to remind me. Vacation Diaries, if you will. And when I’m feeling down about going to a job that does not make me feel fulfilled, or when I see half a bag of garbage strewn across the street, I’m coming back to my words. More than ever, I need them to push me towards something greater. I need to work hard so I can finally find a place I’m happy to call home.