“Hello, how can I help you today?”
“…How’s the weather? Is it nice where you’re at?”
“It’s great. Ma’am, you’ve reached 1-800-Flowers, did you want to place an order?”
“Is this like a full-time or part-time job for you? Do you like it?”
“What kind of occasion were you hoping to order flowers for today?”
“Well, I wasn’t really planning on buying any flowers today… exactly.”
“Well, ma’am when you figure out your order please call us back.”
“Ok, bye then, nice talking with you. I hope you have a great night.”
Berlin, Germany. I was eighteen and I was alone. I’d been living like a street kid, an American gypsy with no plan and no direction. Clad in denim overalls and walking aimlessly through the streets of Berlin, I remembered a commercial for 1-800-Flowers from an AM radio station back home. Every so often when the need for familiarity suffocated my better judgment I’d walk into a phone booth, one of the many that littered the streets of Europe and dial 1-800-Flowers. I suppose I longed to hear a friendly voice, one that would connect me to the place from where I came. The conversation never lasted long, but the interaction temporarily assuaged my loneliness and assured me that home carried on, without me.
Two weeks after I graduated from Pasco High I compiled all the money I’d received from family and bought a ticket to Europe with barely a plan of where I was going or what I was doing. My father always called me his 20th century explorer and I guess he didn’t feel the need to restrict me if it was my nature to want to explore.
From an early age I’ve always loved airports; people in motion, airplanes and the smell of jet fuel. I love packing my suitcase the night before an early flight and the excitement that envelopes my senses in the wake of anticipation and adventure.
There’s something that shapes the soul when you discover first hand that people on the other side of the world who are seemingly so different are actually very much the same. We talk about the same things, dream, hope and fear the same things. The only subtle difference is the language we speak.
No matter where I’ve traveled, I’ve always returned to the Tri-Cities. Some might say its the closeness to my family and most recently a great job, but I sense that there is something more.
When I find myself in a foreign place that echoes a familiarity to the Tri-Cities, I can’t help but feel the weight of nostalgia on my chest:
In Israel, the starkness of the sky and the sagebrush that ripples just below the skyline. In Uganda, the sweet smell of Russian Olive blossoms spreads throughout the thick summer air. In the early mornings of Nicaragua, mourning doves carry on about their busy communing in a somber A minor until the desert shadows push them back into their holes.
In these moments, I realize the indelible print of the Tri-Cities on my existence. It’s the place I call home, just as beautiful as anywhere else in the world. The desert calm of the Tri-Cities is the same calm I sought in the voice of the person on the other end of 1-800-Flowers.
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