17. California, Here I Come!


BLOG 17: June, 1997—I look up, from my car, at this beautiful house towering over me in the hills of Oakland, California. I’ve just completed 16 hours of driving, with a night’s sleep in between, and before me are three tall sets of stairs to merely enter the house. Once inside, I discover another two full sets of stairs to get to my new bedroom. It is beautiful, all of it—a house with glass windows that look out at the entire Bay Area—but my legs are extremely tired, and I have yet to carry a car-load of things up these steps.

Paula, my new housemate, helps me move in. It takes some maneuvering around her dog, a boxer that drools excessively and is fixated on licking Paula’s nylons. When the dog does this, her tongue sounds like a nail file, and I cringe.

By the time I’ve moved everything into the house, my calves feel like washboards, hard and unforgiving. I push through what I need to and then enjoy the view of my new house in the hills of Oakland. It’s a good life, if my body can handle it.

My new job with a temporary artist agency begins soon, and can’t wait to go into San Francisco to begin dancing at top-notch modern dance studios. I trust my body will relax in a few days from my long drive and I’ll be ready to begin my next life phase on the West Coast.

In the meantime, I look out these big windows that open out to the bay, and the hills in the distance, as the sun sets over this place that feels the most foreign and new I’ve ever experienced. I’m finally following through on my original plan to live in the San Francisco area, and now—after an eight-month spontaneous hiatus in New Mexico, and a groin-pull injury—I’m here. This place seems more like an Asian paradise of some past life (if at all, and if there is such a thing), but it has nothing to do with my current journey. It’s a new beginning, tied to nothing I’ve ever lived.


7 thoughts on “17. California, Here I Come!

  1. In 1995, I took a four-month leave of absence (intentional) from my newspaper job to play, try new things and, as I told friends, “find out what I do when I’m not doing what I usually do.” Midway through my leave, a bitter strike began at the newspaper. When it wasn’t settled by the time I was due back at work, I stayed out and began freelancing. I’d been daydreaming about freelancing for a long time, but leave of absence and strike propelled me toward that new beginning. From there, doors kept opening, often in seemingly random ways.

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  2. In 2012 my husband retired and we sold or gave away 90%of our belongings and moved to Costa Rica with a dozen suitcases. We actually ended up having to return home after a little less than a year. Then returned a year later, again having to return to the state after half a year. It was devastingly, exhilarating to a Cancer nesting crab like me. But my time there added an incomparable richness to my life that has changed me forever. Of course there is a new chink in my heart that often yearns for that beauty, the simp,icity and honesty of how the beautiful people of Costa Rica live. I have good friends there and miss them. There were marvels every day to photograph. But my children were not there, nor my grandchildren. I left behind a great job with people I cared deeply about. Such a mixed bag of emotions. Beautiful sunset there in your photo. Enjoy!

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    • Thanks for sharing. It’s often the challenge of loving a place so much, yet not being able to make home there. Or maybe not at this moment. Those pieces hopefully we can offer as a song and life force to the places we are in today and to the people and animals and life that is where we are today. We carry those seeds.

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  3. Thanks Michelle. That is exactly how I feel. Any place I have connected with lives within my soul. It really is so much like CR here in Florida. The nature, the ocean and conservation. Just more hectic. I wrote most of my novel there with giant vultures as muses, beliebpve that or not, 🙂 The bird figures prominently in the piece. I am sorry that so many worthy phrases get turned into cliche but “just breathe” applies in every stressful moment for me. In those few breaths can lie the salvation one seeks in those times….have a great weekend!

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  4. My random-most new beginning was the moment I said “F*** it all, I’m just gonna take a one-way ticket out of here!” found myself devoid of 98% of my posessions, and 99% of all my connections by choice. I boarded the Amtrak train going east away from California, with only a vague hint of a destination, and the words “Go to Sedona, I hear they got spiritual stuff there!”. Totally outside of my logic, totally outside of my comfort zone; and totally outside of practicality – how was I going to travel all the way to Montrêal in 3 months, with just $200 (minus the cost of train tickets to Flagstaff) to my name?!


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