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far places
by Yee-Fan Sun
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I never planned this, to be living so far from home. Yet here I am, awake at 9 am UK time, while all the folks back home are tucked away securely in their beds, thinking strange dream thoughts while I think of them. There's the great big Atlantic Ocean dividing me from family and friends, and it's in the mornings I feel it most -- when that five to eight hour time difference means they're fast asleep and I'm not, and it's like we're living in parallel planes of existence, unable to meet up.

My home city of Boston is still the home of my heart; though it's closing up on a decade now since I really lived there, Boston's the answer I give without thinking when people ask me where I'm from. It's where my parents live, in the house where I grew up even; it's where by youngest brother still lives, and the boy's parents too. When I made the cross-country move from Boston to Tucson, a couple years after graduating from college, I was sure that living far away was a temporary thing, that once the boy finished grad school we would find our way back home. Tucson was too small, the desert was too hot; that first year I moved there, there were times when I was sure that in that scorching brown barren landscape, I would surely wither up and die. But six years later, the boy's dissertation finally completed, we'd set up house in a little pink house that we adored; we'd made a great group of friends who were like surrogate family. I'd seen that even in the desert, you could get a dense spring blanket of wildflowers after just a few good winter rains. I'd learned that even in a place that lacked so many of the things I'd always thought I needed in my ideal city, in a climate that I hated, and without Mom and Dad as a safety net, I could make some roots, feel comfortable, be happy.

The thought of leaving that home was sadder than I'd anticipated, but it helped that because so many of our friends were grad schoolers like the boy, they were all taking off too. The ties that had made that place finally feel like home were naturally coming apart anyway, as one by one, friends left us for far-flung places like Berkeley and Boston and Portland, Connecticut and Ohio and upstate New York. Then came our turn to leave, and it was simultaneously scary and exciting. With the understanding it would be another temporary move -- and, we agreed, hopefully the last -- we figured we'd take this opportunity to try out one more new city. We wanted some place different, a little bit of adventure before finally settling down. The boy applied for and nabbed a two-year fellowship to do research at the University of Edinburgh, and we moved to Scotland.

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