Saturday, June 27, 2009

Leaving California, Part I

I've been meaning to leave for a long time.

About 8 years, really, when I think about it.

I have been very engaged in California, in the hills and small towns and mountain thunderstorms and cold summer fog... but nevertheless I've been meaning to leave.

The thing is, it's always different when it is really about to happen.

I remember telling my friend Judy once, while driving on the freeway, that I didn't understand why I didn't love the hills anymore. I looked up at the dry hills and felt only old memories, a summer too long between rains, and a life that keeps leading me straight towards the places I vow never to spend time in again. Judy told me sometimes places are like people... and if you don't feel love, you can't just make it appear.

So I left. I roamed the desert that summer, then drove all the way across the country and back. I intended to return to California after this trip, but only for a little while. But life being what it is, a little while turned into five years.

When I first thought of moving to Vermont, it was not for the same reasons I am going now. Quite the opposite, in fact. A little over a year ago, while I was visiting Eli in Atlanta, Sara told me she was considering going to graduate school in Vermont and asked me if I'd like to move out there with her. I thought about it, and talked about it with Eli. I thought about it some more on the plane flying home. As the plane crossed the desert and sunk into an all-too-visible layer of smog, as the long, dry summer stretched out in front of me, no rain, no water in the washes, I decided. Yes, I told Sara, I would move to Vermont with her.

Five months later I was there, in Vermont. The leaves were changing color, I was told it was 'past peak' but it was stunningly beautiful and I can't even imagine what 'Peak' fall foliage looks like. I was in Vermont to visit a graduate school program that, somehow, I had never even heard of before Sara thought of moving east. My trip was amazing. I couldn't believe I had found a group of people so excited and engaged in the same things as I was. I decided right then that I had to try to pursue this course, no matter what. I had no idea if I'd be accepted to the program or not, but I sure was going to do everything I could to get in.

I flew reluctantly back to California, to a long, relatively dry, difficult winter. Somewhere along the way, in between dusty windstorms, Sara told me that she wasn't going to be going to Vermont after all. A couple of months later I received a call notifying me that I'd been accepted to my grad school program at UVM.

Ending relationships is certainly not easy. The first time I had to do so was much more tumultuous. That relationship HAD to end. This time, it was different. It wasn't that we certainly needed to be apart, but that our lives and hearts and paths were pulling us in different directions. To be honest, I'm not sure which is harder.

I'm leaving California soon, and now that it is finally time I am realizing that I DO love California... the chaparral, the hawks circling around outside, and even the horrible suburban mess that I care enough about to want to make better. When I drive through the pass that separates our coast from the rest of the continent, cross the San Andreas Fault, enter the desert and cross to the rainy eastern side of the continent... I will be setting forth on an amazing two years... but I will also feel loss and separation caused by circumstances and unpredictable, twisting paths of life.

Who knows.   I might come back to live here again one day... but I might not. My goal, and my hope, is to enter Vermont totally open to the experience, with my past behind me, ready to fall in love with the first snow of winter, with warm summer thunderstorms crossing lake champlain, with fireflies, with water flowing everywhere I look... maybe even with a new person.

We'll see, though. These things are not easy.

1 comment:

skyrocket said...

just don't fall in love with a woolly adelgid and you'll be good to go.

you know Jeremy Ray says "it's more about the people than the places that you go", but I disagree. I really think places can be like people and can often have even more attraction to humans like us. I miss California too and I only lived there two years, so I can't imagine how much you'll miss it.

Just keep your mind open and it will be a great experience in Vermont!