These lists have become odd echoes of my life these days: what I miss, yin yang, and now places I love…We’re living in a new place–a place I don’t yet love. There’s potential here–the gulf is beautiful, the gardens are lovely–but nothing has yet worked itself into my imagination.  So thank you, Stasha and Saretta (who chose this week’s topic) for helping me list through my life!

Herewith, a list. What places do YOU love?

1 .Mackinac Island, Michigan: the Shangri-la where I spent all my growing-up summers, roaming the woods with gangs of cousins. No cars are allowed on the island, which makes it a magical place to be young. I spent so much time there that even now I can conjure up the exact feel of the warm porch floorboards beneath my toes, the smell of wet cedar trees after a rain, and the unbelievable tingle that comes with swimming in the icy clear water. It’s also the place where Husband and I got married, thirteen years ago today.

the view from the front porch on a hazy day

2. A book. I’ve lived in books my entire life and I swear to god that one of the reasons I feel so displaced these days has more to do with reading on an ipad than with living in the Middle East. I like pages, dammit! Sorry, Husband, your wife remains firmly analog (except where her iphone is concerned).

3. The back deck of my mother’s house in Indiana. Okay, Indiana wouldn’t be a state I’d ever choose to live, but Mom’s back deck sits over a little creek that burbles through the woods and when we visit in the summers, the deck is a quiet oasis where we sit and talk for hours and hours (or until the wine runs out, whichever comes first).

4. My kids’ imaginations: Snow White, space marauder, archer, Jedi, knight… their inexhaustible creativity reminds me that we don’t (always) have to accept the limitations of the here-and-now. Liam as Snow White. He’s about 4 in this picture– if he knew you’d seen it, he’d have to kill you.

Caleb as a French knight (the helmet came from his aunt & uncle, via France).

5. The beach. Pretty much any beach, actually. It’s the constant presence of “beach” here that makes Husband hope I will soon fall in love with Abu Dhabi: after all, there are the Gulf beaches, right outside my window.  And, he argues, what’s the desert but a big ol’ beach in search of some ocean?

6. Kayaking on the Hudson River in New York: when I’m on the river looking back at the city, I can’t hear the noise of the traffic.  The buildings rise out of the water like miracles and I get a little rush of “wow! look where I live!”

7.  Provence. Is that a cliché? I mean, who doesn’t love Provence? Can I love it even though I only speak faux-French (and that, badly)? The tiny little villages clinging to the hilltops; the fields of sunflowers and lavender, the olive groves? The whole countryside is designed to seduce–I never wanted to leave.

8. London’s Hyde Park. I loved wandering in Hyde Park when we were in London last month. In Central Park it’s almost impossible to forget that you’re in the middle of a huge city—the tips of the skyscrapers poke into almost every leafy corner. But Hyde Park, you can wander away from the city and actually imagine yourself sprawled in a country meadow.

9. The New York Public Library at 42nd Street: the big one, with the lions.  I love the fact that my book requests funnel to the underground stacks through pneumatic tubes; I love that I can find pretty much any newspaper or magazine every published in its real or digital catalogs; I love looking at the amazing diversity of people clustered around the reading tables, each person lost in her own universe but all of us gathered together in the beautiful reading rooms.

10. Barnegat Light, Long Beach Island, New Jersey: Yes, “down the shore.” A non honky-tonk beach town, with huge white beaches, twisted pine trees, and the ethos of just about any beach town: slow down, ease up, flip flops are fine.