I was at work the other day talking to a coworker about my future relocation to California. She asked the valid question, “What if you move and it doesn’t work out? You’ll be stuck out there.” She’s not the first person to ask it. In other situations, that same thought would be crossing my mind on a daily basis.
I replied simply that, “Nothing will happen.” But even if it did, like if Ryan died which I can see as the only thing that would prevent a long future together, California is eventually going to be my new home.
When I was in high school, I’d readied myself to go to Salem State College. I’d planned and dreamed and breathed in the ocean air, mentally preparing myself for this new life. I ended up not going last minute (something I regret to this day) and stayed in my home town. Eventually I met my first husband and we moved around quite a bit, all within a 30 mile radius. Each new town I made my own, the best I could. I loved Middleboro. It was by far the cutest town I’ve ever lived in. I lived there for about five years. I never got to know any of my neighbors well, and didn’t socialize much, but that town … I walked to the Boston bus for years, in front of the town hall. The church was there, and Ivy’s kindergarten. Each summer I’d walk down the street to the local fair and watch fireworks. If it weren’t for the life troubles at the time, it would have been Heaven. In some ways I guess it still was. I loved the cranberry bogs and flat land and the undeniable charm around every corner.
After the divorce I moved ninety miles north to where I live now, on the New Hamphire border. It was for a man and I knew nothing about the town except that he lived there. It was scary and hard, but I was excited for the adventure. The relationship didn’t work out, and now we are strangers, but this has become my town, as if I was born here. The hills, and winding roads without streets signs, and the ski lodge, and the river that runs through all the local towns have become my mental backdrop to life.
So when I think of Simi Valley, I am mixed with fear of moving to a new place, but excitement over settling in to another life, one that will eventually become my own, as if I was born there. This time it’s different because I feel truly connected to many people here, relatives and friends, and even just the sights in the town. And sometimes I worry that I’ll never see another town that looks like this one again. But one time Ryan drove me to Ojai and that was a darn cute little village. I wouldn’t live there (too far from work) but it’s drivable.
As much as I’ve grown to love the duck pond near my house, both shining in the spring, reflecting leaves in the fall, or frozen over in winter, I will learn to love the orange groves, staffed with migrant farm workers. I’ll learn to love the palm trees the way I love the pines. And the mountains, well they are already a part of Ventura County that take my breath away.
I know this blog doesn’t touch much upon my love for Ryan. That’s evident by now. But this is more about the other side of relocation. Forging a connection, nesting in the new place, while missing the other one. I’ll miss the sound of plows overnight, and dog prints in the snow, but I won’t miss the cold, or spending all my nights and weekends alone. And trust me, there is something intoxicating about standing outside in shorts and a tank top at 8 am and feeling warmth on my skin, and finding lizards in the closet.
For now, I visit as much as I can, and I’ve sent a few things on ahead, moving in a handful items on a time. I’ve sent a jar of rain and some acorns, some fall leaves. With my next box I’ll send pinecones and (melted) snow. Little by little I’ll make it my home. Ivy will be in college, hopefully not too far away, in San Diego. Part of me thinks this is just like when she was six and we moved north, where I drove us toward a new life, car filled with our things and pets, toward an adventure. I guess it’s somewhat the same (though she’ll be eighteen and a half), pulling us both from what we know to start fresh. College and adulthood and a world so different from what we’ve known.
It’s all still a ways off, another eighteen months or so, but it’s on my mind, as Ivy grows older, SATs loom in the near future, and time rushes faster than I can track it. Each time I drive down the street I capture images in my head. Each time I meet with local friends or take the subway, I’m logging it all in.
Nothing will happen, and California is my future. But New England will always run in my blood.
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