1,095 days

It’s the three-year anniversary of the day James and I loaded up our cars, grabbed the dogs and put Texas in our rearview mirror. We got here two days later with willing spirits and confused dogs and haven’t looked back since.

This move was an experiment. Neither of us had done anything so drastic before–at least, not intentionally. But up until and including the moment we headed west, I never once doubted what we were doing. It felt scary, but it also felt right, and that rightness has never wavered. Something for which I remain grateful.

It’s hard being so far from the people we love (and even the people we just really like), and we’re still trying to figure out how to maintain years-long and even decades-long friendships in a world where no one talks on the phone. Facebook is a sorry substitute for real life/real time, but it’s better than nothing. If we find the solution, I’ll let you know.

So, three years in, some observations:

  • Our palates haven’t converted to CaliMex, nor will they. TexMex forever.
  • The 1,800 miles between us and home seems shorter every time we drive it. It helps that we’re figuring out the best places to eat, pee and sleep along the way.
  • There’s not much of a temperature spread in Pacific Grove, but there are distinct seasons.
  • Newscasts and truck commercials are much less dramatic here than in Houston. For the former, it helps that we watch a local station and not one out of San Francisco. Less drama to report on means less dramatic news. Plus, there’s just a different tone in general. As for the truck commercials, there’s no California equivalent to the pervasive “everything’s bigger in Texas” motif.
  • Speaking of that, I never really felt like a Texan when I lived there. But I did feel like a Houstonian. I’m still figuring out what I feel like now.
  • We lived here for four months before I stopped reading the Houston Chronicle every morning.
  • We lived here for three months before breaking our year-and-a-half meat fast by eating pepperoni pizza at Tommaso’s in San Francisco.
  • We lived here for almost three years before I ended up with a workable queso recipe. Still not quite like the plastic restaurant version that we so love, but close enough to get the job done.
  • We’ve mostly adapted to living in a small house. A key thing we did was replace some of our beloved furniture with smaller pieces that are more appropriate for the footprint of our house. My grandparents’ dining room table (which seats six to eight) moved to the garage and was replaced with a square table that seats four. And suddenly the walls didn’t seem like they were closing in.
  • The PG dog parade remains one of my favorite annual traditions and melts my cold, cold heart every time. If you were thinking about coming out here on vacation, I’d suggest the end of July because the dog parade is followed the next night by a pretty impressive fireworks display over the water. And even though it’s summer, it’s often cold and foggy. And also, we’ll still be here, good lord willin’ and the creek don’t rise.

Points of interest as chronicled in this blog (now I just chronicle on Instagram):
Palo Corona Regional Park
Mill Creek Redwood Preserve
Point Sur Lighthouse
Point Lobos State Natural Reserve
El Carmelo Cemetery
Whale watching trip

we are all a work in progress

Before we moved to California, James and I had a lot of conversations about what life might be like once we got here–how much we’d miss our families and friends (a lot), whether we’d find a restaurant that serves queso (no), if we’d have extravagant utility bills (luckily, no), if our house would be big enough to hold all our stuff (no), if anyone would come visit (luckily, yes).

We also wondered how the move would impact who we are. Both being in our mid-40s, was it possible a change of scenery would equal a change of self? Or are you pretty much who you are once you reach middle age?

Since we were moving to a cool coastal climate with an abundance of natural beauty, I had high hopes the outdoorsy part of my nature might awaken. That the person I was on vacation in California–active, open and ready to adventure outside–would somehow become the person I was living in California. That I’d spend less time in front of the dim glow of the computer and more time in direct sunlight. My inner voice wasn’t so sure, but it can be an asshole sometimes.

I’ll be damned if the outdoorsy part of my soul didn’t find its way to the surface, putting my feet on the bare earth with as much regularity as possible while still meeting my work/life obligations. And instead of this being something that immediately burst forth with the newness of a change of latitude/longitude, it simmered for the first year then grew in intensity in the past six months, my hikes becoming longer and harder, my desire to be outside and unconfined stronger. A welcome surprise, to be sure.

I’m telling you this, not because I’m excited about my new relationship with the outdoors (though it’s fucking awesome and I even have a tan), but in case you have some ideas you’re chewing on and could use a boost. If my sedentary, internet-addicted, pale-as-a-vampire self could find its way into the sunlight, you can do yo thang too. Just tell that inner voice to simmer down for a bit while you find your footing. And be sure to give yourself time for a transition to happen. Change will come, but it may not come quickly.

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Onward.

 

 

one year ago today

We rolled into Pacific Grove around 3:30PM. We didn’t have a place to live, and our worldly possessions were on a trailer somewhere between here and Texas. But we had each other and our dogs and it was good.

And it’s been good. An experience, as it was intended to be. After going home in December and then returning to this little house, it finally felt like we live here and aren’t on some weird vacation that includes jobs and our furniture.

And we’re in the place but still not of it. I knew this on Saturday as I stood in the checkout line at Safeway behind a nicely dressed old lady with a handful of coupons. The checker was either stoned or a monk because the last coupon wouldn’t scan and the line was backing up, but she wasn’t flustered or concerned. Or rushed. Over and over, the checker slowly punched something onto the tiny screen–perhaps she was writing in her blog–and over and over the coupon was denied. After finally consulting with another, less zen, checker, a solution was found.

And the old lady in the fancy clothes and expensive shoes asked, “Are you sure you got the one that was a dollar off Tide?” The checker wasn’t sure. She scrolled through the transaction. Back and forth. Slowly. I watched the line with the dollar off Tide move up and down the screen, unseen, as she and the old lady talked about how computers slow everything down these days. A year ago, I would have been tempted to point it out to them. Like an asshole. But this time I kept my mouth shut and tried to ride with the Tide. So, progress. And miles to go.

And still we rise.

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Inspiration Point | Palo Corona Regional Park | Carmel-by-the-Sea, California