When going home, I always rediscover my sense of heart and adventure. It’s only on the plane, taking off from wherever I ended up, that I really feel like I can blend my roots and my current positions. It’s always so funny to me because I am alone on these flights, but I feel closer to my friends and family in these moments, two worlds that have rarely collided. Trying to explain the place that shaped me, the people that comprise my soul, is always impossible, but really deeply satisfying to try to do. There are so many different parts of telling people who you are, or where you’re from, which is for me one and the same. How can I explain, while on the ground in New London, what the wind sounds like as it echoes through 1,000 miles unimpeded, 6 miles of it straight skyward. You can get scientific, and say that it creates resonant frequencies that surround everything you are when you drive out into the middle of nowhere to listen, or you can get historic, and tell people that the people, ancestral or just stubborn, that eked and etched out their existence in the hard caliche, called it la llorona, Spanish for “the weeping woman”, or just sang with it and prayed for their crops, but it doesn’t surmise all the things that it means. How do I tell octogenarians, who spent their entire lives within 20 miles of the small-town hospital we were both born in, what sitting on the masts of Eagle watching whales as the sun rises feels like? I can’t describe the space of New Mexico, and I can’t put the blending of all the experiences and cultures and people into a definition, unless I’m a mile high, staring down on all that our country is. Can anyone?
The people who will become closest to you in the Academy, and in all of life, are the people who don’t necessarily understand but don’t need to. My mom told me once that the reason she loves my dad so much is because he doesn’t understand why she thinks the way she does, but he loves all of her thoughts anyway. I may never understand how exhilarating it is to play pranks with my friends at a civilian engineering school, how cool it is run my own DJ business, what it’s like to compete in Northern Virginia school systems, how it feels to be part of a swimming family on the shores of Lake Michigan, or what Chicago feels like at Christmas, but I can’t help but to picture the lifetimes that crafted the people I love the most. The people who are worth going back home for, and the people who give you courage to leave it again, are the people who love all the places and faces that you describe imperfectly to them because you are the product of those things, and they love you. I’m so glad that, for all the hardship the Academy has given me, it’s added to who I am. It’s given me experiences that one day I will describe to someone else who can’t understand, and it’s given me people to share everything we are (and everything we will be) with. It’s given me the metaphorical chance to look down from a mile high on home, on who I am, and to get to be there as others do the same.
More about Delaney.