California Calling

A while back, in a fit of feeling sorry for myself, I decided that if I couldn’t spend one last big chunk of time with my son, I might leave my new husband and two bonus daughters.

So in January of 2016 I spent four glorious weeks in the Bay Area picking my son up from school, hanging out with him after school, being obnoxiously present on the weekends.

Fast forward a year+ and my son is at college in California – a decision that made me both heartsick and elated. I’d wished he would have chosen Wesleyan or Swarthmore, but he’s a California boy, born and raised – even though he has loved his bi-coastal experience. I recently came back from a visit and while its my son I go to spend time with, it is my friends who I equally need to connect with. I love my son. Deeply and unreasonably. However, there is a natural evolution to parenting… we raise them to become independent human beings that can connect in the world. To have humility and self-awareness. And eventually, to leave the nest. Whereas friendships, which we nurture and hone and develop, are setting us up for a different kind of security as we age. At least that is what I’m hoping from the friendships I have been lucky enough to have. There are periods of time when we are all busy in our tornados of life but even the brief respite of hearing from a friend can sustain me for weeks.

And then I come home, to New Jersey, where I know about one person, despite living here for almost four years. Sure, I ‘know’ my neighbors, but they’re not friends. I work in Manhattan. I spend most of my free time with my husband, traveling, or alone. Making friends when you’re old is hella different than when we’re kids, or have something in common like kids or husbands or work. I need to keep looking for new groups to spend time with, like minded people who can dork out with me.

Palm trees

A teacher once told me that when you are writing your personal stories, often you need perspective. Sometimes, the experience is too raw to process well enough to then convey accurately – or if not accurately, effectively, in an entertaining or interesting manner. But occasionally you just need to get the shit down on paper and let it flow, whether it happened 10 years or 10 minutes ago. Today, I’m going to listen to the teacher’s advice, though, because what I’m feeling most heartbroken about are my failures as a mother – and that alone could fill a book.

So, today, palm trees. I am on a mini-moon with my man. After a few days in Vegas for a conference, we’ve just hit Palm Springs for a couple of nights then off to LA. We’re taking our ‘real’ honeymoon in December but this feels like a nice getaway. We swam in the pool tonight and as I looked up at the palm trees swaying, I was reminded of when I first moved to California. I had just turned 20, and had been dreaming of this move for as long as I could remember, and as long as I could write. There I was, at a friend of a friend’s family house in San Diego, marveling at their backyard. Instead of grass and birch trees, they had rocks and avocado trees. Orange, lemon, cacti, and palms everywhere. I remember craning my neck to watch the palm fronds undulate, back and forth, much like hair underwater. The turquoise blue sky behind them provided such a stark contrast that I thought I was still dreaming… Here I am, exactly where I’m supposed to be. And while, obviously, I was supposed to move to NYC 20 years later and meet my man, I still dream of California – both the life I had before and the life I will have again. So, tonight, as I floated on my back, water blocking my ears from any sound, I watched the palm fronds sway in the wind and for a minute, it felt like home.