The adjustment is big; going from the mountains of Alaska to flying down the Long Island Expressway at warp speeds with other cars cutting you off and then the people inside giving you the bird as they zoom by, is challenging. But this is where I grew up. It will always be home in a sense. However, I feel that over the ten years that I have lived elsewhere I have become a different person than the competitive, ambitious teenager who left for college almost 11 years ago. I have come to value different things, my definition of success is very different and the way I imagine the rest of my life is also very different. And being here is not just difficult because I hate the fast pace or the rudeness of people or the materialism, it is difficult because I am bird of a different color, I no longer fit in, I do not belong here anymore. It is sad in a way, that the place I called home for 18 yeas of life should feel so foreign. But I guess that is part of growing up, of moving beyond the comfort of home and finding where you really belong.
In just a little over two weeks I will head back to JFK just the way I came and happily fly back to the Alaskan mountains, back to a slower pace of life, back to Denali National Park where I will find some like minded people who share my values and beliefs. Who choose a different sort of life.