≡ Menu

Two Months

Ocean

As of today, I’ve lived in Encinitas for two months. I feel like I’m finally figuring it out – I know where to get all of my various groceries, and I don’t need to use a maps app to get there; I mostly remember which restaurants, cafes, and businesses are closed on Mondays; our house is almost set up to my liking; I own more than one temperature-appropriate clothing ensemble.

For the most part, I like it here a lot. The people are nice, the weather is always beautiful, the pace of life is lovely. It still isn’t home, but only time solves that problem. When people ask where we lived in San Francisco, I keep responding in present tense: we live on the line between the Western Addition and Lower Pac Heights. It always takes me a moment to remember that we don’t live there anymore. Nine years will do that to you.

Wonderful things (in no particular order)
1. The beach is glorious. I don’t go as much as I should. I have a goal to get there every day, but I usually make it about two or three times per week.
2. Trader Joe’s is unlike anything I’ve ever experienced before!  You drive up, find a parking space in the lot without waiting or circling, walk calmly through the store, and head to the register, where there is never more than one person in front of you. This happens regardless of the day of the week, or the time of day. I don’t quite understand it, but I sure do like it.
3. Time off with my honey is a regular thing! We have had every weekend to do what we want. So this is what that’s like!
4. People are incredibly kind and mostly considerate. There’s been a little bit of inconsiderate growth over the past few weeks, as our area is taken over by vacationers, but this too shall pass.
5. It really is a great little town. We live so close to the coast that we can basically exist along the 101 Highway corridor, which is loaded with locally-owned businesses and quirky landmarks. People have started to remember us at the places we frequent, which is lovely.

Challenging things
1. I haven’t yet made any friends. I’ve met some people who seem fun and interesting and may potentially become friends, but that hasn’t yet developed. Since I’m currently doing consulting work from home, this means I spend the vast majority of my time by myself. I’m an over-thinker, so too much solitude can be problematic. Working on this.
2. We’ve had a lot of house challenges. For about two weeks, something went wrong every day. And I’m talking about big things: the heater was leaking gas, the main line sewer backed up into our bathtub, etc. For those two weeks, I spent a lot of time with random people tracking equipment through our house. It was really unsettling. And yes, I understand that home ownership has its challenges, but we do not own this home. We pay a significant amount of rent so that someone else has to deal with this, and it was frustrating that we were, in fact, the ones dealing with it. That said, things seem to be settling down, and when the house is good, it’s really good.
3. I’m wasting a lot of time. Consulting from home has its up-sides, but I haven’t settled into my routine yet. I have three separate projects that I’m working on, and ideally I should set a schedule of work hours… but I haven’t done that. I’m not falling behind on anything, but my time feels very disorganized. I have, however, done a lot of house projects. I’ve also watched the first two seasons of Bones, and therein lies the rub. I am not a TV watcher, and I have no interest in becoming one. I need to find ways of getting out of the house (that don’t involve spending money). I’ve been going to the gym about three times a week, and heading to the public library once a week, but I need more of these things.

That’s the status update from two months in. Among the many “routine goals” that I’m setting for myself, I am hoping and planning to write more. But let’s be honest, I’ve been trying to force that for a few years now, and it hasn’t happened. I feel self-conscious about posting status updates, rather than thought-out essays, but that’s where I am at the moment.

Look, here’s another pretty ocean picture!

Sunset

{ 2 comments }

Living on the ground floor brings with it all sorts of new challenges. We have no neighbors above or below us, so you’d think that our lives would be quieter. You’d be somewhat incorrect about that.

Our San Francisco flat was located on the third floor above street level. We were on a corner, and a full floor above all the neighboring houses. Although we could see people out every window (and they could presumably see us), we were well-removed from the street goings-on. Here, we are not. For the most part, this doesn’t pose any challenges. Sure, we appear to have moved in next door to the resident College Party House, which is obnoxious, but we’re figuring it out.

That’s not the biggest problem, though. The biggest problem is the Scary Kitty.

Both of our cats love sitting in windows. As we don’t have air conditioning, the windows here are open all the time, and the cats love this. (They don’t love when we go outside, and they can see us through the screens, but so it goes.) It’s much more interesting for them on the ground floor, too. There are birds that fly by, plenty of action to see, and more smells than I can probably even imagine. Alas, the fun ends at night, because that’s when the Scary Kitty appears.

To be fair, the Scary Kitty is really cute. She’s small, mostly white with black spots, enormous black eyes, and she has a pink collar with a bell on it. And I’m fairly certain that she’s a giant moron. Because every evening, the Scary Kitty sees Pierre in a window, and promptly launches herself at the window in an effort to meet him. Since the window is screened, this results in the Scary Kitty bashing herself against the house, claws first, and then falling on the ground. And, in the act of doing this, the Scary Kitty scares the everloving crap out of Pierre. Who will now no longer go near a window after sunset.

The first night this happened, we did not understand what was going on. Pierre was sitting in the window, and suddenly flew from the sill as though he had been forcibly ejected. The first time he did this, we laughed and thought nothing of it. The second time, I looked out the window, and discovered that the world’s most adorable feline was staring confusedly back at me. We mocked Pierre for a full day… and let’s be clear: this cat understands English perfectly, so he promptly vomited on our bed. On the next night, however, we both happened to be looking at the window when the Scary Kitty attempted to jump up and say hello. And y’all? IT WAS SCARY. She has clearly figured out that something is amiss, because she attempted to scramble through the screen with her claws. The result, of course, is that the screen was slightly damaged (how to explain this to our landlord?????), and the NOISE WAS UNREAL. We actually thought Pierre had fallen through the screen, but we quickly realized that he had sequestered himself under the coffee table, between several piles of magazines. Scary Kitty, on the other hand, looked sadly back at me from the asphalt outside.

Pierre spent his day today blissfully sniffing the air through the windows, but won’t go near them now. I’ve seen neither hide nor hair of Scary Kitty in the daylight. The drama shall resume this evening, I’m sure. I’ll keep you posted.

{ 2 comments }

Hello from Encinitas

Oh, hi!  Since last we spoke, I’ve moved to Encinitas, California. And boy, has it been quite the drama.

I arrived on May 1, when it was monumentally hot here. The Horse Whisperer was still in San Francisco, finishing up work, so I made the journey with two miserable cats and a full car. The day after I arrived, our movers unloaded box after box (after box), and I picked up a wonderful friend at the airport, who flew down to help me unpack. The first week was mostly fine – totally overwhelming, but fine. I think I was mostly in shock, but I hung in there, and got a lot of things done.

The Horse Whisperer was scheduled to arrive on Sunday, May 11, and that’s really when all hell broke loose.

The morning of his arrival, I decided that I absolutely must get him a gas grill. And so, off I went to the Home Depot, determined to accomplish this surprise. I purchased the grill and propane tank, and headed home. Luckily, the grill was preassembled, but I had to move it from the car to the back yard (note: we have a back yard! It is tiny, but it exists!). During this task, I thought to myself, “I probably shouldn’t do this by myself. It might not be the best idea.” And yet, I charged onward. I got the grill in place, and then began to load the propane tank into the base. If you’ve ever done this, you’ll understand that a so-called twenty-pound propane tank does not feel like twenty pounds. There’s this tiny little hooked ledge that is supposed to hold the propane tank, so I gamely attempted to lift the tank onto the ledge. In the second attempt, however, the propane tank slipped and came crashing down on my left hand. My first thought was, “f@%* f@%* f@%*, I have broken my finger!” As I removed my hand from the place where it was wedged, however, I noted with relief that my finger was fine.

My engagement ring, however, was not fine. I HAD COMPLETELY SMASHED IT.

Friends, I cried. I bawled. I hadn’t yet cried since leaving my beloved San Francisco, and I made up for lost time in a big way. I sobbed giant crocodile tears. I called a few local jewelers, and learned an impressively negligible amount about antique jewelry repair in the San Diego area. I cried some more.

The Horse Whisperer arrived home that night, assured me that we would figure out the ring situation, and loved the new grill. We hung out for a day, and things were fine. He was dismayed by the number of boxes remaining in our house, and  I was dismayed at his disappointment, given that only fourteen of the ONE HUNDRED AND THIRTY TWO ORIGINAL BOXES remained. We both quietly fumed for two days.

And then, all of San Diego caught fire.

You probably saw this on the news. It was horrible. There was ash literally raining into our yard. The Santa Ana winds were strong and crazy hot, and the finest bits of ash were blowing into our windows, covering everything we owned. The new house does not have air conditioning (locals continue assuring us that there is no need for AC most of the year… I remain unconvinced), and it was over 100 degrees outside, so closing the windows was not an option. On day two of the fires, it all caught up to me: the ring, the move, another saga involving That Which Shall Not Be Blogged. I was not feeling happy, and I expressed as much (probably in a very whiny tone of voice), and my darling husband, the light of my life, felt the need to suggest that I should “toughen up.”

And that, friends, is when I totally LOST MY SHIT.

Not since my teenaged years have I cried like that, for hours and hours and hours into the night. I woke up feeling hungover, hazy and headachy. I got in my car, discovered that the air conditioning and fan did not work at all, the windshield had suffered a major crack, and the front left blinker had died. We got a recommendation from one of the Horse Whisperer’s new coworkers, and took the car to the garage. They called, excitedly let me know that the AC repair would only cost about $350, but that they had felt something strange in the steering. They told me they would call back after checking it out. A few hours later, we learned that the car was going to cost around $2,800 to fix.

So. Here we are. We have a grill, there’s now only one box remaining to unpack (not including our extensive framed-item collection, which is flat packed separately), the fires are under control, temps have finally returned to the low seventies, my kitchen is actually functional, the car is going to be ready for pick up in four hours, and I have not yet found a jewelry repair person. Honestly, I’m exhausted. Things are getting much better (sometimes, losing one’s shit has the longterm effect of cleaning out the pipes, as it were), but it has been dramatic and not super fun. I miss my friends. I miss my town. I love the beach, but we don’t have much weather-appropriate attire, so that’s challenging.

Why am I writing this all down, after such a long hiatus? I’d like to remember this. I’d like to remember that the first week we were both here was ridiculously bad. Comically bad. I’d like to keep perspective, so that if and when we move again, I remember how it was. And I’d like to have a marker for how much better it gets. Because let’s be clear, it will get better. I can feel awesomeness on its way, and I’m SUPER MEGA DUPER looking forward to it. But I also want to appreciate how far we’ll have come.

Encinitas, over and out.

{ 6 comments }

Life is good

Three weeks ago, I didn’t realize how great things would be in this exact moment. I hope I’m not jinxing myself, but the past three weeks have been really wonderful. I finished up my final two enormous events at work, and both went off with exactly zero drama. (They were not expected to be drama-free, I should add.)

On the morning of gala, we signed the lease on a cute house four blocks from the ocean. We haven’t seen it in person yet (eep) but we sent a trusted person over to take a look. I’m going to miss the everloving everything out of our current flat, but there’s something so exciting about these blank walls and new projects. Plus! There’s a patio!

I met one of my all-time favorite artists, Diana Fayt, when she arrived with a gift that my dear friend, Anne, commissioned for me. Wow. That was a stunner of a moment – I can’t even describe how happy and amazed and humbled I felt. It features two beautiful birds, connected by a ribbon. It represents the story of my friendship with Anne, and absolutely knocks the wind out of me. What a gorgeous, thoughtful, incredible gift!

And finally, after some bad news on the automotive front, the Horse Whisperer and I replaced his car! Three weeks from right now, I’ll be driving down to see our new house for the first time. It will be the first day I’ve been without a full time job since 2006. And I can’t wait to rock out in the new Subaru!

It’s a scary-but-happy time, and I find myself more and more excited about moving forward. Staring at that photo of H-Dubs on our street, I know I’m going to miss San Francisco so so much, but I feel like we’ve really lived here. Does that make sense? And even more, I’m ready to really live somewhere new. The gifts of this town have been huge, and I really hope we’ll be able to “pay it forward” wherever we go. We have another six-ish weeks here, and then it’s on to the next chapter. I hope this one continues to finish out on such a loving, happy note.

{ 6 comments }

Dreams, Limbo, and Peter Gabriel

I’ve been dreaming lately of things forgotten: appointments, objects both precious and not, past wounds and treasures.

These months are a strange limbo. Some days, I wake up aching with love for San Francisco, stifling the dull panic of leaving. Other days, I can nearly feel the sun on my shoulders and the ocean breeze of my future life, and I want to get in the car and leave everything behind. I’m torn between wishing the days to fly by and longing to freeze time. I try to quell my growing annoyance at things I’ve forced myself to ignore for nine years — the smells of city living, the endless droning of car alarms at all hours, the jostle of too-close humanity on the bus. I want to look back with only love, and I want to look forward with only excitement. I want to remember everything, but remember it fondly. I want to forget to forget to forget the anxiety of moving ahead and the irritations of standing still.

A few weeks ago, we took a spontaneous drive out to one of our favorite coastal spots. I took the Horse Whisperer there on one of our earliest dates; he brought me back to propose; we’ve had so many pivotal moments in this one place. In our early days together, it was just a ruin with a parking lot and a set of ragtag stairs. Over the years, philanthropists renewed their interest in the spot, and it’s been primped and face-lifted. Much of the wildness is gone. And every time, there are more and more people. I miss going there to be alone, together, with him.

The drive out was hectic. Traffic was bad, and drivers and pedestrians were ignoring laws and common courtesy. Pulling into the parking lot, it appeared that the entire world had the same idea to visit. We spent ten minutes circling, waiting for someone to leave. Finally, we got out of the car and made our way to a low wall overlooking the coast. It was nearly sunset, and the throng was beginning to gather, sitting in a long row along the wall. I wasn’t in my finest form. This was my memory of my place! How dare all these people swarm it! The sun crept down toward the water, and then, there was music playing. It was far away, but getting closer. A guy appeared, strumming a ukelele. He sat on the wall with the rest of us, just playing the same chords over and over, and as the sky lit up in color, he began to sing Peter Gabriel’s In Your Eyes. The low hum of conversation continued around him, but his voice carried just slightly over it all.

The sun slipped below the water, and he strummed his final chorus, got up, and walked away. There was no fanfare, no acknowledgement of what had happened. And I had the strangest feeling that we’d started saying goodbye. I realized that I was ok with that.

I’ve been dreaming of things forgotten, both good and bad. I’m archiving things to remember, storing a bank of them for when I’m old and telling stories to my grandchildren. And soon, it will be time to finish the final chords and walk on to the next thing. There are more stories waiting out there to become a part of me. And I can’t wait.

{ 2 comments }