On Monday, I'm flying from Albuquerque to Chicago, where my mother will pick me up and drive me home to Madison. I'll be in Madison for a week, drive down to Chicago for a day to see some college friends, celebrate my sister's 23rd birthday with her, and fly back to Albuquerque on the following Tuesday.
I won't see George, Dan, Ali, Nadia, Mary, or Cam, but I'll see a bunch of other people, many of whom I haven't seen since I graduated from Grinnell more than three years ago. I'm looking forward to it, absolutely. And I'm hoping to see some of my dear Oregon friends as well, including Ila, Heather James, Cindy and Memo, and perhaps some of my dear teacher friends. I'll see my family, some of whom I saw at Val's wedding in May, some of whom I haven't seen since Christmas. And I'll see the land, the green hills and cornfields, the sparkling lakes, the tall, leafy trees of Southern Wisconsin which are my family just as much as my people are. I'll sit on the end of the pier at the Memorial Union, splashing my feet in the lake if it's not too gross with algae. I'll walk the roads at night, following the railroad tracks under the dusty brilliance of the milky way. I'll drive old paths, so familiar it will seem I've been gone mere days instead of months.
I'll probably cry when I leave. I usually do. And as always, I'll re-examine my committment to New Mexico, wondering as always if the velvety peaks of the Sandias at sunset carry enough weight in my heart to balance the winding roads and sturdy red barns of the midwest.