A year ago today, I woke up in my house in California for the first time, having arrived in town the previous evening. It had been a long night, after an even longer trip across the country. I unloaded my car, bought a few groceries, and had a bowl of clam chowder at the one restaurant still open. Exhausted, I unrolled my sleeping bag in the corner of my bedroom when it was time to go to bed, turned out the lights, and lay looking at the ceiling. I remember thinking to myself, Ok. I’m here now. Time to get started.
This year has been incredible. Not at all easy, it’s felt important in ways I did not expect; it was a turning point. For the rest of my life, I’ll remember how difficult it was for me to make this move. And, for the rest of my life, I will be grateful that I did.
There’s no need to go into everything that’s happened in this year; I’m pretty sure I wouldn’t do it justice anyway. But because I’d like to mark the occasion, I’ve chosen a picture from each month to share. I miss my east coast every day, but I couldn’t be more grateful for all that has come my California way.
Three days after arriving, I headed off for my first day of work. My red shoes felt powerful and optimistic.
I remember being astonished by the different beaches, their unique characteristics, and their constant beauty. I’ve never lived on the ocean before, and I’m amazed by all the secrets and magic it holds, so much more than I can comprehend.
Traveling to or from the bay area means driving through wine country – which is as wonderful and problematic as it sounds. I like that I don’t live in or near Napa, though it’s a nice getaway; here, the local wineries are full of funky spaces and people, not to mention fantastic vintages all their own.
Local vineyards are one of the few places that remind me of the change in seasons, with their golden beauty and crisp scent. I returned from a weekend in Sedona with one of my best friends to find myself gawking at the fields of grape leaves changing colors along the highway. I finally pulled over to take this picture, ducking beneath a gate to do so.
One day, I mentioned to a friend that I had a lifelong dream of making tamales from scratch. She said, “Why don’t we do it tomorrow?” And so we did.
I have some good friends who live a couple of hours away, and going to see them, especially when I first arrived on the coast, was a lifeline that made me feel significantly less alone. I took this picture one evening in January, just as the moon was starting to rise, as I drove to their house for a party belatedly welcoming the new year.
Oh, those weeds in my yard? They’re not weeds! They’re calla lilies! Truthfully, I’d discovered this earlier in the year, but I’m still amazed by what pops up in my yard, or in my neighbors’ yards. There are so many plants and flowers out here that don’t grow where I’m from; I’m particularly taken, surprisingly, by the beauty of the alstroemeria, which come in so many colors.
One of my favorite places on earth is a nearby farm, where I once lived and worked. Though I can’t make it out there often, it is always a calming force in my life when I can visit. This tiny little house on the property is furnished with a bed, nightstands, and a woodstove: pretty much my dream come true for the house-behind-my-house I dream of someday owning.
In April, I attended a training in San Francisco. I found this quote – the same one that is on a poster in my house – tucked behind a curtain there. It’s a Rumi quote, and one I try to keep in mind most days: Out beyond the idea of wrong doing and right doing, there is a field. I’ll meet you there.
It is a lovely thing, to stand inside of a redwood tree, looking at one of its neighbors. These trees blow my mind, with their age and wisdom; standing around them is meditative, and humbling.
The sunsets, of course, can be stunning. It is not uncommon for me to jump into my car and race to the water to catch a glimpse of the colors that are turning my west-facing living room all sorts of shades of pink and yellow. It is endlessly entertaining, this live theater that never repeats itself.
One of my favorite things ever, each one of these slips of paper has a few handwritten words on it, describing individual moments of gratitude. It is an amazing thing, and reads a bit like a prayer to the world. In the midst of some hard moments this year, I tried to recenter around the grounding force of awareness, and around the active notion of giving thanks. It helped.
…and so, here we go again. Year Two. Who knows what is headed my way? I can only imagine; I better bring some snacks, just in case. Good thing I have these figs, and maybe I’ll just go ahead and add some cheese…
Whatever happens, I’ll post some interpretation of it here. Thank you for coming along with me on this wild ride!