We're back in Chicago, back in my snow-globe of a hometown, where bundled-up skaters dot the lake and the sun blinds with its icy reflections. These sleepy winter days are even quieter than I remember, and even colder, but I'm basking in the cozy warmth of being home. Only now that I live elsewhere do I realize that my childhood home has a smell, a very light but distinct smell that's woodsy and sweet, pine and vanilla. Already I find myself sinking back into old patterns, old habits, as if stepping through the front door brings me back years, maybe decades. It's been just twenty-four hours and and I've been told that my accent somehow thickened overnight, just a day in the Midwest shortening my a's and o's.
It's like a piece of me never left. Like maybe I'm always here, waiting to return to myself.