My Heart Is in California

I have lived the clichés—I didn't want to return to the past in an attempt to recapture something that no longer existed. You know that one tired saying: you can never go home again. BS. You can go wherever the hell you want. I convinced myself through logic and narrowing of thought that I needed to be bold (which I did—we all do), but the boldness stopped there by narrowing my entire life to two choices. I return to California or I move to New York. There was no choice in the middle; I pretended there was by applying to the University of Cincinnati (it was an attempt to stay small and please my mother). I was in Kentucky for three years after high school, a dismal, life-altering experience. I hated Kentucky for everything it wasn't: California, endless sunshine, eucalyptus trees, beaches, flip-flops. I had few friends and none of them knew me, not like the friends who have known you since you had that terrible flat top in the 80's (I did). Plus, Kentucky was where rheumatoid arthritis first showed up full-blown and debilitating and altering my body as I knew it. Pre-Kentucky, pre-arthritis, I was active with ease—I ran, worked out, danced, hiked, swam. I had a beautiful, unappreciated body (by me)—typical teen girl crap, not skinny enough, legs too big, tried too hard to work on my looks instead of my brain. I'd love that body like crazy now even more than I love my current body. I'd probably jump and skip and run everywhere instead of walk just because.

Condensed version: going back to California seemed like, at the time in 1992, that I was trying to relive freedom and an on top of the world feeling instead of learning something new (not that New York wouldn't include any of those feelings—I have felt it all on the East Coast). It's just that, I knew pure joy in California. I suppose New York had always been a lure with some of my favorite movies as inspiration: When Harry Met Sally, Moonstruck (I lived in that neighborhood for a brief period eventually!), Annie Hall. Plus, I loved anything related to fashion, so New York won out. I'm glad it did. I lived on my own for the first time. I loved hard here. I had my kids. I explored a few careers. I fell in love with the energy of vastness New York creates. I moved there right after my 21st birthday and have been in the area ever since. I have done everything here. I grew up in the truest sense and I appreciate and honor every beautiful and difficult moment I've had here (there have been tons -- trust me, many of which I will write about at a later date). But, now I know, like really, absolutely without a doubt, and I'm ready to go back.

Last year I moved about an hour west of the city for my kids and for some quiet. The first moments spent in the yard reading and writing, I felt like I was finally somewhere that felt more like California: pretty and in tune with nature. I have cypress trees and rolling mountains all around. I can hear myself think. People aren't hostile on a regular basis. I can find parking in town. My new neighborhood is freakin gorgeous with all of the Victorians and colonials and history. My house was built sometime around 1870. Pretty awesome (I refuse to go in the attic—too many horror movies as a child). For New Jersey and the East Coast, this area is a pretty close second home, but it isn't nor will it ever be California. I will take it for now, for the as close to idyllic landing space that it is before returning to the place where I must be by choice. I know it is so.

There have been tons of aha moments spilling out over the past ten months or so, about the time when I started paying closer attention to what my heart was really trying to tell me, when I began being closer to my authentic self. There have been too many crazy coincidences (which of course, I don't believe in—no such thing. Every encounter is part of an infinite plan), essentially tons of synchronicity floating around so many aspects of my life, but one of the biggest ones is knowing that I can no longer deny where my soul wants to be. Sure, I can make do here. Who wants to keep making do? There is absolutely nothing wrong with where I am, nothing, but my molecular structure is closely aligned with Southern California. How and when I will be there isn't totally clear, but I have some ideas that are taking shape. No more denying where I should be. I know fully.