Californian.

There’s a torn out page from Country Living Magazine folded into one of my previous journals. On the page are several country homes for sale around the United States.

Mark and I often fanaticize about moving to another state. I dream of a house in the country surrounded by trees and Mark dreams of an island where he could run a taco shack, teach golf and surf.

California is where we were both born and raised. We created our family here. But sometimes I feel like I’m settling and maybe I’m just afraid of expanding my wings. Am I allowing fear to limit me? Am I just playing it safe? Will I be happy remaining in one place – one area – for the rest of my life?

We have begun a search for a bigger home. We currently live in a two bedroom condo. And with three kids our home is feeling a bit cramped.

So I’ve asked myself some questions in order to find the right house for us: What do you want? What are you looking for? Where do you want to be? How do you want to live?

I felt like sitting on the beach and eating something fishy.

The kids and I were in Santa Barbara. Our playdate at the zoo had ended but we were not yet ready to leave.

I looked up beachfront restaurants and found Shoreline Beach Café. On the way there, we stopped at a red light. A man on a motorbike rode by and a loud knock rattled my car. The impact was loud and alerted us. I believe the motorbike man struck the side car door mirror. I looked out the passenger window to assess the situation. A man in a red VW looked back at me. His window was down. He made a hand gesture signaling the motorbike man and mouthed something like “What the heck is wrong with that guy?”
I gestured in return and said, “I know. What the heck?”

The man in the red VW looked at my car and gave me a thumbs up. All was well. He then yelled at motorbike man to grab his attention. He made hand gestures and said something like, “You hit her car.”

Motorbike man looked back at me and raised his hand. “Sorry.” He said.

I raised my hand. “It’s okay.” I said.

The abrupt sound raised my heart rate but I was glad no further damage was done. And I was thankful for the kindness shown from my fellow drivers.

 

We arrived at the café and sat at a table in the sand. It felt good to sit in the cool ocean breeze and smell the fresh salty sea air. I felt relaxed. The kids were relaxed as well. The girls were calm and quiet. And Abe sat in my lap as I fed him black beans and fish. I drank a cold beer and enjoyed some fish tacos.

I overheard two men nearby discussing business matters. One of the men said something like, “This is the opportunity of a lifetime.”

“That’s what they all say.” I whispered.

Abe stood up in my lap. He smiled and giggled at girl who sat in the sand behind me.

I thought of a question to ask the girls to strike up a conversation. “What is your summer dream?” I asked.

“To have fun.” Alana said.

“I want to ride a boat.” Mia said, “But not a wooden one.”

There was a large white boat in the ocean. Mia pointed to it. “Like that one.” She said.
It looked like a yacht or a small cruise ship.

Great, I thought. How am I going to make that happen?

I looked toward the sea. There were wind surfers out with their parachute sails in the air.

It was the first day of summer. As we sat and ate a late lunch on the sand I realized, I would never leave California.

 

On the drive home, I saw a family walk together along the beach road. My first thought was: they’re tourists. Maybe it was how closely they walked together or because they were all blonde with fair skin. I’m not sure, but I made a judgment in a glance.

A young man, tan with blonde hair, rode on a bike past them. His shirt was unbuttoned allowing his muscular chest to greet the breeze. As he rode by I thought: Is that how they see us? Californians?

I chuckled and drove home.

Two days later, I ran errands with Abe. We went to the post office. When I took Abe out of the car, I swung the car door open a little too far and hit the side mirror of the car beside me. I turned around to see a red car. I inspected the mirror. No damage was done but I felt guilty.

I moved quickly as the guilt spread across my face. I didn’t want everyone to see it. I purchased stamps and mailed a birthday card to my best friend in San Francisco. And then I fled the scene.

As I left, I considered the circumstances and found a common thread from what had happened in Santa Barbara. But what did it mean? Was the hit from motorbike man merely a warning? Was the universe trying to tell me to be more aware? I didn’t know.

But I knew it was synchronicity.

Someone once told me synchronicity means you’re on the right path, meaning: you are where you’re supposed to be and headed in the direction you are meant to go.

I believe I am where I’m meant to be.

I also believe: I should watch out for motorbikes and side mirrors, and eat more lunches on the sand.

After all, I am a Californian.

Itching to Move.

An edited version of my journal entry on June 5, 2017:

Abe is still asleep. It’s 8:05 am, the kitchen oven says. It’s Monday morning and I’m standing in the kitchen drinking coffee and eating vegan donuts. I’m standing at the counter because I know Abe will wake up at any moment – he just did. I had to finish that last sentence while holding Abe in my arms.

The children noticed an uptick of U-hauls as we circled our community on a walk last Saturday. The girls rode on scooters and had to maneuver around the moving trucks, various people and furniture. It’s moving season, I guess. Is that why I feel the urge to move?

We met my friend for lunch that day. She spoke of wanting to move too. She said her living situation was fine but she felt an itch for something new. I felt the same way. Perhaps,  it’s because I know it is the next step for our family: a house with a yard and an extra room for Abe. But we are happy here, for now.

Watching the trucks and people coming and going, reminded me – this isn’t a permanent place. But then again, what’s a permanent place? I guess, the proper way to say it would be “long-term residence.” Anyway, I’m eager for our next chapter but I know I need to remain patient and trust we’ll find the right place when the time is right. For now, I’ll enjoy our little condo of love. I’ll keep trying keep it clean, organized and feeling like home. I’ll bring in more plants to keep this space feeling alive – breathing with life. I am grateful for our home, but I would really love some new kitchen counters.

Monday morning, while Abe slept and the oven taunted me with time, I took a picture of my coffee, donuts and journal in the kitchen but the grout between the white tiles was stained brown. I was too embarrassed to share it.

Later on, I moved my breakfast and journal to the coffee table and took a picture suitable enough to share.

IMG_4534

There are many imperfections here, some are easier to share than others, and some will follow us no matter where we move.

 

 

 

A Desk with History

I wanted a secluded place to write. I pictured a little desk with a chair and lamp in the corner of my room; something small; no frills; a simple space to work.

I searched online for something new, but knew in my heart, I wanted something old. Something with history and perhaps characters with stories of their own.

I planned on going to a couple of local antique shops. I felt a strong pull toward one in particular, so I went there first. It was a small shop I had recently fallen in love with. They sell all kinds of old things: furniture, dishes, lamps, fans, clothing, etc. They also sell things that are repurposed.

I walked in to the shop and – to my surprise – they had expanded! The space was now the size of two small stores combined. I felt giddy. There were so many fun things to discover. However, I remained focused. I didn’t much time, the girls would soon be out of school, and I held baby Abe in my arms. Most of the time, Abe is a great shopping partner but with babies you never know what might happen.

As I entered the shop, I was greeted by a woman behind the counter. “The credit card machine is down.” She soon informed me.

“Don’t worry,” I said, “I came prepared.”

I walked through the store with Abe and carefully looked over all of the furniture and a few of the treasures displayed on top of them. I made a mental note of a white metal folding table that could work for the space I envisioned and continued my search.

I saved the best for last: a small cove in the new addition of the store felt like a secret hideout. As soon as I entered, I was struck by a tiny table on top of a substantial desk. The tiny wooden table had a card attached to the knob of its drawer. Written in black permanent ink were the words: Primitive Writing Desk. As soon as I read those words, I knew – this was it. And I wondered just how old “primitive” was.

I approached the counter and asked the clerk for more information. She explained, the woman who owned the desk had many things she sold in an estate sale. And she had a story for each item she sold.

My heart leapt in my chest. I could potentially find out more information about the desk. Not only would I have a place to write, I’d have something to write about. “I’m sold.” I said. And we walked over to retrieve the desk from its perch.

Once we arrived at the stack of desks she was taken aback. She thought I had inquired about the bottom desk. “Oh no.” I said, “I want this one.”

She didn’t know much about the top one except for the fact that it was “primitive.”  She also pointed out one hand made nail that slightly stuck out from the top of one leg. I was disappointed, but nevertheless, I fell in love and had to bring it home with me. The clerk carefully removed all of the trinkets on top of the desk and brought it to the floor in front of the register.

As I checked out, more people entered the shop and voices filled the room. The clerk addressed one of them in particular. I looked to see who she spoke to. My heart dropped as I recognized his face. It was the face of someone I try to forget.

I turned my attention back to the clerk. We discussed how to get the desk into my car and where I should park. She asked me a couple of times for the color of my car. I felt disoriented and couldn’t comprehend what she was asking. The past and present blurred into one moment and I forgot where I was. I finally managed to let the word “silver” slip out of my mouth and turned round with my head up. I looked straight ahead as I walked past the face and out of the store.

As I retrieved my car, I prayed he would not touch my desk and felt anxious as I pulled my car up to the shop. I was relieved when the clerk walked out with my desk. It was small enough for her to carry alone. I helped her get it into my car. I thanked her and drove away.

I tried to shake off that face. I won’t let him…I thought. I shook my head. I knew it wasn’t him. It was me. I had the power to ruin my day. I made a conscious decision to not let my thoughts travel down that road. I found what I was looking for and for that, I was grateful.

On the way home, I called my husband to tell him the good news, and who I had seen. He was happy for me but felt protective and angry over the past. “It’s okay.” I told him. “But maybe we should move out of this town.”

It’s something we casually discuss. A part of me wants to run away from the history here. Different locations around town are marked by past events, some sweet, some sour. I have a strong grasp on my roots, but there are times my hands bleed from holding on much too tightly. It’s a tough love, the love for my hometown. The bitter taste of a home causes me just as much pain as it does love.

For now I must learn to let go of faces and places that have scarred me. I have to learn how to forgive and live with the past and who I used to be. That’s the most painful thing about crashing, face-to-face, with the past is knowing who the person sees when they recognize you. The person you were then. I was reminded of my mess and how lost and desperate I used to be.

I brought home Abe and a desk with history. I had a story to write. But I hadn’t planned on it being my own.