It may seem silly, but I feel like Alabama is my home. I mean, I was born and raised in California and live there now. But, my grandmother (who has long passed away) is from Montgomery. And my father lived there intermittently. My great aunt still lives there. I was there when 9/11 happened.
We were not listening to TV when it happened and my cell phone was turned off for several hours. I was supposed to fly back to Los Angeles that day. When I turned on my phone, I had eleven new messages. My cousin and I were driving. My dad was telling me not to get on the airplane. I didn't know what that meant. When we got back to the house, we saw the taped images. I couldn't fly home. I stayed in Montgomery for several days when I finally found a rental car and drove to see family in Florida. I don't remember if I flew out of Florida or Alabama back to Los Angeles but my then boyfriend from Dothan, AL picked me up from LAX.
My siblings don't feel the same pull I feel towards Alabama. One of them visited once but I was the only one who flew there to bury my grandfather who wanted to be placed next to my grandmother. My father's extended family was distant from me in childhood but as an adult I felt I needed to know them because I had such a bad experience with my mother's family. Put kindly, there were weird and sometimes mean.
Perhaps my father idealized his family but I only find kindness and acceptance with his relatives. When my mother's mother was telling me she couldn't believe and could eat ice cream and not gain weight, my father's mother's niece was telling me who much I reminded her of my grandmother, that I was kin. And when I was in AL, my great-Aunt said how sorry she was she couldn't cook for me like she did for my dad and uncle. It was a kind of tenderness I didn't see often.
When I'm very sad, I guess like now, I really want to be there. I know I have the means and the ability to catch a flight there tomorrow. It's a good fantasy.