We curled northeastward from runway 35R, and I watched a city drop away below me. For someone who'd visited only thrice, it was astoundingly easy to pick out familiar landmarks as they receded into the distance of the window beside seat 13A in the European-built aircraft hurtling me away from somewhere I wasn't ready to leave. I knew the highways that connected the city southeastward to its airport, to be sure, but I also found myself looking at a dam I'd bicycled over just two days prior.
So much territory -- both new and familiar to me -- under my wheels, most of it in the delightful company of someone whose ability and temperament practically duplicated my own. Leaving to return to my own bicycle might well have been something to look forward to, but it wasn't. Its heavier weight and lower cost are practical necessities in my life, but riding more slowly and invariably alone aren't really a thing to be strived for.
It seemed only fitting when, upon deplaning at my layover, the next flight was cancelled. Only when I complained that they planned to send me a long way and cause me to miss the final bus into the city did they offer another option, and I ran to make it -- barely -- before proceeding to Philadelphia, another place I knew well from the air.
The final leg included a look beneath the clouds just long enough for me to see where I'd be sleeping and figure out which approach pattern the weather was allowing. The clouds then returned until we were just about 5 miles from touchdown. A world obscured by the grey blanket that separated me from the soil below had at least made the question I rolled in my head more real than its original, metaphorical intent: where is home?