I'm standing in the Portland airport after just getting back from visiting my boyfriend in Tucson. I don't miss the desert heat, but I do miss him. I sigh, grab my bags, and make my way through the terminal. I walk through my little airport smiling at the familiar signs for "wicked" Maine lobster, the Portland Head Light, and other Maine icons. I send a text to my dad in Chicago letting him know that I made it back safely. Never have I ever felt such a strong pull to be in three different places at once.
When I lived in Chicago, not 30 miles away from where I grew up I felt like something was missing. My heart was pulling me to Maine in a big, determined way that would not be ignored. I felt rooted to stay in the place I had always been, but I felt the pull to be in this new, exciting place as well.
Now that I'm here in Maine I still feel the pull but in a different way. I feel the pull to Chicago because my family is there along with everything that has come to signify home to me. It's not the same yearning I felt for Maine, but rather like a dull ache that has become a second pulse gently throbbing below the surface.
My heart stretches yet another 1,000 miles away to Arizona where my boyfriend is currently getting his Master's degree. We visit as often as we can, but seeing each other every 3-4 months is far from ideal. I stand in my little airport and simultaneously wish to be in the places that are my past, present, and future.
We like to think that we can have it all--that once we find that perfect place, everything else will fall in line, and in a lot of ways that can be true. It wasn't until my car was packed and I was halfway to Maine that I got the phone call for a job. I was here three weeks before I finally found an apartment. Things like that do line up once you prove to the universe that you're serious about your decision.
What people don't tell you is that even after all those pieces fall into place and you feel like the universe is finally on your side, you're never completely settled. I held onto my Midwestern roots when I moved to Maine like it was a lifeline. I embraced my Chicago accent despite endless teasing. I held firm in my belief that deep-dish is the best kind of pizza. I'd complain about Chicago but would pounce on anyone who spoke ill of my noisy, chaotic city.
Though my boyfriend and I don't know where we will end up next year yet, I feel the pull to be with him as well. It will be a new thing for us--living together in the same state at the same time, but one that we're both eager to try.
Usually, when I get back to Maine I am so happy to be back. I breathe in the salty, sea air while the seagulls caw overhead. I wander the streets of my beautiful, old city with a renewed sense of awe over this place I decided to call home. This time was different.
I still love my city, but there has been a very subtle shift ever since I got back. I know my days in Maine are numbered and for the first time since crossing the Piscataqua River bridge that first time last spring, I'm okay with it. Portland is still the place I feel the most at peace, the most balanced, but I'm also anxious to see where my next adventure takes me. It's a tricky balance between the three places my heart wants to be, but thankfully it is never dull.
Have you ever felt the pull to be in multiple places at once? How do you find balance between your past, present and future?