Here in Connecticut, it is so green. So much is growing, and without effort. Frat houses have green lawns and the rhododendron that grows outside the crack den on the end of my street is covered in pink buds.
It's also so humid. It's rained twice in two weeks. The sidewalks are damp afterward and my hair curls obnoxiously into a halo around my head. The dog steps warily around puddles and shakes excessively in the merest drizzle.
I have to check the weather again. It is no longer 75-85 and sunny every day with a low of 45 at night. Three days ago I woke up sweating with the fan on full blast and this morning I woke up shivering under a pile of blankets. New England, what.
I watched three cars run red lights during one errand this morning. Two people cut me off and a third honked maniacally when I signaled to turn left. Yesterday, a man yelled obscenities at me when I walked across the street in a crosswalk, with the light. He said something so nasty that it's not fit to print and made me gag a little bit. For crossing the street.
There is internet everywhere. And cell service. And cars. And people. Everywhere, there are people. There are men, catcalling and staring and so fucking obnoxious that I realize just how good I got at tuning them out before I left and didn't have to hear it once - not once! - for four months. I walk with my keys tucked back into my fist, sharp edges out. I walk quickly, with my gaze in the middle distance. I only let the dog say hello to dogs walked by women. I had forgotten, so briefly, what it is like to be a woman in this world. I was just an outsider in Arizona. I was an outsider, and I was white, and that was enough.
I babysat my neighbor yesterday - two-and-a-half now, he is a muscle-y, squishy, tow-headed toddler who leaps into my lap for "a snuggly hug for Auntie Cait" and my eyes will not stop filling at every little thing. The man who handed me my cap and gown this morning at pick-up told me "Congratulations," and I almost burst into tears, again.
It is both the biggest relief and the most enormous discomfort to be back here.
Here where I also don't belong, where someone else is living in my room and I have to remember to shut the door when I'm peeing and oh yeah, flush afterwards. Here where the apartment is being shown every other day and every little thing reminds me that I am leaving, have already left, should never have come back.
Here, though, where my dearest friends envelop me in tight hugs and eat nachos with me and tell me it's okay that it was hard out there and you don't ever have to go back.
Who sit in endless dressing rooms in four different stores to help me find a graduation dress while I struggle to accept a body that has grown smaller again, except without me starving it, but simply by eating less takeout and hiking with a dog at 7,000 feet every day.
I feel useless and uneasy and anxious and blessed. I drink iced coffee on the sun-warmed grass and the sheer abundance around me feels almost pornographic compared to the barrenness of where I have been.
I feel like this has all been a sham, but then when I'm halfway between sleep and waking, I dream of babies. Heads emerging, mothers moaning, and the way my hands work separate from my brain now. Sure of themselves, flexing and easing life out, corralling pudgy slippery limbs and handing them over, her belly an oasis, her hands reaching. I may not belong here, but I surely belong there.
I feel like a midwife.