In June 1981, as a wide eyed 19 year old on his first trip to the U.S., I walked out of the PanAm terminal at JFK International Airport Into the cool night air of New York City and got into my brother's car and drove to his apartment in the Bronx for what would be one month of vacation exploring New York City, mostly on my own. As we drove through the streets of the borough on that first night, I looked around at the dirty city streets with pages of newspapers flying around in the windy night, raised my head to the opened sun roof of the car, inhaled the smell of the city and I knew in that instant as I inhaled that cool air into my lungs, that this was going to be my home.
Five years later, I moved to the USA permanently and never looked back. Then in 2002, I had an opportunity to take a new job in Virginia, and when I flew into Ronald Regan airport in Washington D.C. for my interview, as I got into the Lincoln Town Car that picked me up, I felt nothing for the area until I crossed the Potomac river into Virgina where I opened the cars window slightly and inhaled the warm Virginia air and I knew, this was to be home. Two months later we moved into a town house in Virginia.
Last week, my wife and I went to San Diego for a week's vacation. I walked out of the airport into the warm California sun, and felt nothing. We got our rental car and drove to La Jolla where we would stay, checked into the hotel, went to the restaurant and ate lunch and still, there was nothing.
Later, after we ate, and I had a much needed nap, we drove down to the beach to see the sunset on the Pacific, and there, it happened. I inhaled that perfect salty air, and I knew, we are going to live here. I don't know when or how, but we are. And that feeling was even stronger later on in the week when we drove up to San Clemente and Laguna Beach. I knew this was home.
And for the first time since 1981 when I returned to my Caribbean home after a month in New York, I did not want to go home. I love New York, but I genuinely did not want to come back. I wanted to just send for our babies and just stay there in California.
For the whole week I was there I never had any supplemental oxygen, and I could breathe. I walked up inclines that would normally wind me as if I were Superman, sometimes passing my wife and leaving her behind. I never napped other than that first day, and I had energy. The most energy I had in years.
I've been many places for vacation, but this was by far our best vacation. And now I know that I need to live there.