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Moving home is hard.

I won’t pretend that it’s not hard, that there aren’t times when I see myself getting further (mostly geographically and a little figuratively) from my dreams and wonder how in the world I got here.

I won’t pretend that there aren’t times when I wonder what life would be like if I hadn’t left California.

I won’t pretend that I don’t sometimes yell at the garage code that refuses to work and curse the dogs running from the yard and begrudge the grey skies that seem to go on for weeks without end like they’re making money from anti-depressants.

But, I also won’t pretend that this is what I do often.

I expected to do it often.

I expected to come home and feel like I was missing out, to weigh the pros and cons and finally decide that moving back to Indiana was worth it in the end. I expected to get a little sting in my heart when I visited California, when I heard news I could’ve been a part of, when others forge ahead.

But, it’s not like that. I won’t pretend it is.

Instead, it’s like this.

I call a local bookshop, the one I follow on Instagram, the day before the John Green book comes out. (I just know I’m way too late to get a copy.) I chat with the owner and tell her I love her Insta and she invites me to a midnight party and says she’ll save me a signed copy for tomorrow even if I don’t come.

I get my haircut by the same person who asks how my classes are this year. I begin talking about the TV show Supervet, and she kindly informs me that I told her about it and that tragic episode with the St. Bernard puppy last time.

I talk to my students about farriers, how I didn’t know what one was until I worked there. (They’re the blacksmiths who do horseshoes.) When a kid asks me what I thought they were called, I answer, with a shrug, “Horseshoe man? Feline cobbler?” I realize my mistake instantly. About three other kids do too. I find myself laughing all day about it.

I make pasta for my family. It’s a big, communal production, and at the end of it, my nieces actually eat the broccoli. We carve pumpkins with teeth and smiles and give them voices and names.

It’s Friday night, and my mom and sister and I are heading to Sense and Sensibility at an old theater that plays the national anthem and WB cartoons before the movie begins. There are four hundred other women there who cheer for Alan Rickman when he comes on screen, who laugh at Emma Thompson’s comic genius, who clap at the end of the movie.

This is it, and it’s not how I imagined. I don’t weigh the pros and cons because I don’t have to. This doesn’t compare. This is so much better.

I don’t feel a sting for something else, and that doesn’t mean I haven’t stopped working my butt off.

It just means I’m home.

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