Returning Home: A Golden State of Mind


In one month, Jonathan and I will load the dogs and last of our belongings into his car and begin the drive back to California. For good.

Just shy of three years after moving to Seattle with Ennis — jobless, penniless, aimless — I will be returning home two animals, one boyfriend, and a modest amount of savings richer. I might even have a plan. Nothing concrete, nothing especially exciting, but it’s taken me a long time to get here; this place of comfort and being excited for the future was not easy to find. It was elusive and full of obstacles that made me question myself and my path.

I can see with clear eyes now that my time in Seattle was worth every terrifying and educational moment, but I say that with a tad of wariness. It was hard. I was not good at starting from scratch. The big difference now is that I am no longer looking back and bemoaning my mistakes; I am not bringing my baggage Home to roost, nor will I allow it to pollute my future, whatever it holds.

As early as September 2007, I talked about moving to and living in Seattle. I was so certain of my decision, something I find rather humorous now. But I did it; I actually did what I set out to do. I left California six months after graduating from college, after an extremely rough period at my parent’s house. I was lost, unfocused, and depressed. I had no money, no job, and no idea what I was going to do with my time. Despite the obvious reasons not to move, Seattle seemed right.

Wine Country Hills photo by Julie's Boutique

I distinctly remember driving around the Bay and looking out on the golden, rolling hills of California, and I was… over it. It’s hard to explain, but I felt almost ill at the sight of this landscape, of this dry, burnt atmosphere that had surrounded me my entire life. Even in idyllic Santa Barbara — my home for four years — I grew tired of the dusty hills and the brown, brown, brown always in view. (You can tell I had some things to unpack emotionally, since the view from the other direction was the Pacific Ocean.) All I saw come autumn of 2008 after an East Bay summer, with temperatures consistently breaching passed the 90ºF, was the absence of any green in them there hills.

Never mind the three years of near-perfect weather that coastal California had experienced since El Niño struck in 2005. I suppose I wanted rain, gray skies, and all the green my eyeballs could handle.

Something was wrong with me, but I was 22, so that was my right.

The funny thing is that just a year and a half later, as I flew into Burbank airport to visit my then-new boyfriend, I looked out on the golden hills and almost cried. They were beautiful and familiar and felt like home — a welcome feeling after a very (double-emphasis on the very) rough year. I knew with certainty — much like I did when planning the move up north — that I would return and California would be my home again.

But I wasn’t so angry and disgruntled this time. I have much love for Seattle and the kind of city that it is. Our experiences here are priceless.

That said, the current plan:

Jonathan and I will begin our temporary stint back at my parent’s house in the Bay Area while he focuses on applying to graduate school. We will work and save up for another impending move — somewhere else along the California coast—and get ready to embark on a new journey: Jon toward a PhD in Film Studies and me… well, I plan to be by his side and see him through. I care less about what I am doing than with who I am spending my days.

Thank you, Seattle, for teaching me that.

I’m open to all possibilities. And who knows… maybe someday, when our lives look very different, we’ll find ourselves back in the Pacific Northwest again.

(California Poppies print by Jill Bliss; Wine Country Hills photograph by Julie’s Boutique)

One thought on “Returning Home: A Golden State of Mind

  1. Oh, these days. These “anywhere-but-where-I-am” days. I don’t miss them, with all their loneliness and darkness and sorrow, but I’ve never regretted them either. My memories of them have become my armor. I wear them knowing I can face a deep void of darkness and light a fire.


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