Since Friday, I feel like a traveler in America who wants to go home.
I’m reminded of the day I moved to Italy at age twenty-six. I’d just finished graduate school, and was offered a job in Venice on short notice. Within ten days, I turned over the lease to my apartment, and gave away most of my things. When I got to the airport, a flight attendant handed me a luggage tag. I took a pen to the top line, then realized I had no home to list.
Today, as then, I’m gut-punched and unmoored. Then, adventure lay ahead in a country I barely knew. Today, it’s heartache in the country I know best.
I’m not the first to liken these days to those that followed September 11. I’d never before felt such hurt for my country. This time, my country has hurt me. Where do I live? I don’t know.
Last summer, I visited Wellfleet, Massachusetts. At the public library, a poster on an easel promoted an upcoming reading by author Jhumpa Lahiri. It contained a quote that returns to me now:
For much of my life, I wanted to belong to a place, either the one my parents came from or to America, spread out before us. When I became a writer my desk became my home; there was no need for another.