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It’s one of those days when I feel like I have nothing to say. I’m sitting here in bed on Saturday morning while Andy is out in the world picking up fresh bagels for us. He’ll probably fill up the gas tank while he’s out. And when he returns, he’ll make a fresh pot of coffee. This is a charmed life. So I have no idea why I’m feeling so bland.

I’ve been propped up here with the lap top jotting down notes, mostly whining about how I’ve thought about my next blog entry for days–even tried to actively write it (which, as you know, is more effective than trying to think it into existence)–but nothing has come.

My plush panda sits here staring at me as I fail to write. He’s about one foot long from tail to nose. I chose him at the National Airport (I refuse to call it the Reagan Airport) in DC a couple years ago when I had one too many delays trying to get back to Los Angeles.

You know how sometimes your flight gets cancelled at one airport (in this case, it was BWI – Baltimore), so the airline sends you and your luggage in a hot tobacco reeking taxi through rush hour traffic on an empty stomach to another airport where you have to go through security all over again – untying and retying your shoes – only to find out that that flight is cancelled, too? You know how sometimes that happens?

And sometimes when it happens I can summon up thoughts of the covered wagon trails and realize how utterly blessed I am. Thinking of the births and deaths that occurred in a single journey from coast to coast reminds me that I’m more fortunate than the kings and queens of past centuries. Ibuprofen and chocolate and birth control and cell phones and . . . . well, this wasn’t one of those days.

I was in the airport most people in the world had started calling “The Reagan Airport”, hours beyond my originally planned arrival time in Los Angeles and I wasn’t thinking of the covered wagon trails. My flight had just been delayed again and I was fighting the urge to cry when I saw a pile of pandas on a table in the gift shop, and my panda was among them, and I knew I had to have him for the rest of the journey home.

Home. Los Angeles is my home. It’s been over 13 years since I drove my, then new, Saturn each of the 2704 miles across the states. That car would eventually be dubbed “Helen Capaski” by the 7 year old girl I would take on as my “little sister.” Years later, old Helen would be sent off to charity when a shiny new Jeep Liberty took her place. Now even the Jeep is paid for and I’m waiting for someone to make a stylish hybrid SUV. I’m embarrassed to say that I want to ease my conscience by driving a hybrid, but I’m too used to sitting up high on the road to go back to a smaller vehicle. And this is the proof that not only am I at home in Los Angeles, but Los Angeles has made a home in me.

Seasons are no longer marked by darkening leaves and crispening air, but rather by resolved auto loans and car shopping. Cycles stretch not from September to September, but from decade to decade. Which is one explanation for how I could have let my 37th year pass without graduating beyond my Ikea living room furniture. My friends have husbands and mortgages and PTA commitments, while I’ve got a cat and a boyfriend, and the three of us share a stuffed panda.

I’m still reconciling the fact that while I wasn’t paying attention, Home moved from east to west. For years when I took the flight back to Maryland, I would say I was going Home to visit, but at some point, I don’t know the exact month or year – California settled in me. The friendly places speckling DC and Baltimore, those wide open fields along Old Crain Highway, especially the winding roads cutting through stretches of farmland, although familiar, all of those places became foreign—none of them conjuring the feelings of belonging that palm trees and Andy offer me.

Panda’s looking at the screen now wondering where I’m going with this. I don’t need to know, Panda, It’s a blog. I can post unfinished, unpolished. I can put words in your mouth, take you for an airplane ride, hold you tight or pull the covers back up over our heads. It’s my prerogative on a Saturday at home.

Ruth, 37, Los Angeles, USA

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