April 2, 2017

Abby and I decided that airport terminals are like purgatory. There’s something about being in a place where nobody is where they mean to be. Everybody is in a transition phase, somewhere between Point A and B. Everybody is waiting for a somewhere, something, someone. Waiting for an adventure. A new opportunity. A loved one.

April 3, 2017

Did you know Redwoods burn from the inside out?

Some trees … their insides are nearly hollow. Others expose only a strip of their burnt muscle. All trees have patches of scorched skin, their red bark blackened. The damage must be more extensive than meets the eye. Still, the trees stand.

April 4, 2017

“San Francisco is only nine square miles,” Christiana said. “It’s just so hilly, they can stack a bunch of shit on top of everything.”

April 7, 2017

“California is made up of mountains and valleys,” Ruthann told me this morning. Christiana, Abby and I spent the day driving through California’s valleys. I love long car rides when traveling. Almost more than I like stepping foot on Yosemite’s ground, resting my hand on one of the Golden Gate Bridge’s towers, and listening to sea lions bark in Fisherman’s Wharf.

Airports and car rides—the transitions between one attraction and the next activity—is the crux of travel. That’s what travel is really about, right? The nit and grit it takes to finally see what you wanted to see? Do what you wanted to do? Every time I’m soaring past landscape, I have to remind myself: Don’t close your eyes.

You know how life is often described in terms of mountains and valleys? I always want to rush through life’s valleys.

I suppose it’s good that life is more like a landscape than a car radio, where you can skip songs and change stations.

April 8, 2017

We stopped to pick up a box of chocolate cake mix for Abby’s birthday.

Grocery stores always make me homesick.

There is something about watching people pick out spaghetti sauce, and knowing they will cook and eat a meal together, leave dirty dishes in a sink together, that makes me ache.

Only today, I think I am homesick for a home I do not have.

April 11, 2017

I imagine home as a mosaic of what you ache for most when out of reach.

Taking off at 12:45 a.m. for Chicago makes me miss my bed.

Tomorrow, I will miss valleys

and tall, strong trees

and people-watching in airport terminals

and spending nights losing games to friends.

And mountains.

I will always miss mountains.

Illustrations by Laura Kraay, MFA candidate at Texas State University. Her work has appeared or is forthcoming in Hobart, Buffalo Almanack, Weirderary, among others. You can see more of her work at www.laurakraay.com.

Cassie Westrate
Cassie Westrate (’14) graduated with a double major in writing and international development studies. She currently lives in West Michigan, where she works as a writer, hangs out with her pet bird, and fights crime by night. Just kidding about the crime.