She said she would leave the door open for me. I walk into the familiar sound of Jackson’s four year old voice, as I quietly enter. Stella, the yellow lab that is the “third blonde sister” doesn’t bark. Over a year ago, when I first met Sybil, the owner of the front door that I am entering now, Stella didn’t bark. It was like I belonged then, and I still belong. It feels good to belong. Somewhere.
I remind Sybil of her daughter Rachael, who is only a few years older than me. Sybil, this wonderful woman became my second Mom during the year that I rented the downstairs room in her home. Her home became my home. I would bounce in and out of my Hermosa Beach life in same typical speed that I move and travel now, but I had a stability and rest that my life currently lacks. My favorite times were of coming back from work, still in uniform, and Sybil and I would catch up, standing in the kitchen, as I animatedly told of passenger stories or cute boy craziness. She would laugh and say, “Oh, my Kara.”
That’s probably what I miss most, are these moments with Sybil. I miss my life in Southern California. I miss sitting on the couch and watching TV with her. I miss knowing Dave, The Dog Walker, will arrive every morning around 9am, and again in the evening. I miss baking and cooking vegan food, and testing it out on whoever would walk in and out of the front door. I miss knowing every day would be a certain way, that the people around me were always going to be there, in a predictable fashion.
I think in some way, Sybil’s Hermosa Beach house will always be my home. My bike still lodges in the garage. This morning, as I was out with a good friend, catching up over coffee, Sybil called. She told me that she was going out to breakfast, but that I wouldn’t be locked out. She paused and then said, “Honey, you should have a key. Just in case you get stuck in LA sometime, and I am not home. You need a key.” When my friend asked what I am up to as we prepare to part ways, I say, “I’m gonna walk home.” My heart feels happy, to have a place, and broken that I have to leave.
Sybil’s love, wise words, and hugs bring me back. I call her crying when my life seems to be falling apart, asking, “Sybil, can I please come home? I need you.” “Sweetie, you are always welcome. You don’t have to ask.” Her home is more home than my parent’s house. My parents, dad a pilot, mom a dietitian turned flight attendant are always gone. I sometimes run into them randomly at airports in various states, but Sybil is a constant comfort, a stable place. She calms me down. She gives me a different perspective than my very Religious upbringing. She is a light to my life, and are paths colliding was something I needed then. I just never knew I would still need her so much. That I would have such strong ties to Los Angeles, a place I said that I would hate living in before I moved to the sprawling metropolis.
Southern California is where I grew as an individual, where I began flying, where I started my blog. So much of my life, my church, my friends, and my heart is in this place. I have a dull ache knowing that I can’t stay. Not now. Not yet. Maybe not ever again. I say my thank you’s that I have a place that I feel that I belong, even when I personally don’t have an address of my own. My friends are good to me, my family adores me, and I am, although alone in much that I do on a daily basis, I am never really alone. Ever.
Right now, I want last year back, when riding my bike in the Palos Verdes hills was my typical morning. When I had Sybil’s hugs every day. When life included a lot more sleep. Last night, after going to dinner with Sybil, Rachael, and the kids, little Jackson said goodbye to me, and then gave Sybil a hug. “Meme,” he said, “I don’t want to go because I will miss you.” Sybil, in her quiet, sweet way said, “But Jackson. I will see you again. Sometimes we have to say goodbye so we can appreciate the times that we are together more. I love you.”