Flying into San Francisco Airport last month was a surreal experience. I’d landed at SFO dozens of times, from cities as far afield as Barcelona or Guatemala City, and every time the plane’s wheels hit the tarmac, I knew I was home. This was the first time that I didn’t feel that way, because I was just visiting.
I’d spent the past two months in my new home in Jackson, Mississippi, and I was flying back to visit for two weeks and then drive my car cross-country. As the plane flew north over the San Francisco Bay, I felt my throat get tight. I had lived in the Bay Area for all of my 28 years, and I suddenly realized that it wasn’t home anymore. I looked around the plane, at the passengers excitedly craning their necks to see the landscape, and I wanted to tell them, “I’m not one of you. I’m not just a tourist. I grew up here.”