It is up to me what happens next
Today I turn in my Oregon driver’s license for a California one. Another part of my past falling away from me. I feel like a snake shedding its skin, layer after layer of the person I used to be is falling away from me.
I arrived in California the morning of October 31st with 4 suitcases. I arranged transport from the airport to my apartment, and as the driver took me to my new home a million thoughts raced through my head. My stomach was in knots, I had to pee, and my eyes were swollen from crying. That morning I said goodbye to my home for the last eleven years, my husband, my cats and a whole way of life. I left it behind to take a chance that living by the beach would heal my soul.
The driver dropped me off at my new home in Redondo Beach California, to a complex that stretches the length of a block up a hill across the street from the ocean. They are doing construction on it so I got a deal on the rent. My unit is on the far east side with its own stairway entry and private deck. But I was in the parking garage on the lower level, and I stood with my 4 suitcases at the bottom of the stairs as the driver drove away. My husband always did the heavy lifting, and I just assumed the driver was going to helped me carry my cases to my apartment. He didn’t. I was on my own.
I had ordered a gel mattress and bedding from Amazon. The mattress was waiting for me, but the bedding was not. I didn’t have my car yet, so the closest store I found was Walgreens that I could walk to. I went there and found some small blankets, some towels and an airplane headrest for a pillow. My gel mattress was on the floor as I hadn’t ordered a bed yet, and my first night in my new home, it was my only piece of furniture.
The next day I walked around Redondo Beach to see what was there. The sun was out, and people were friendly and offered me suggestions of where to shop and where to eat. I was starting over. I needed to figure out where the grocery store was, I needed a hair dresser, nail person, everything. I had to walk everywhere because my car was being shipped down and didn’t arrive for 2 more days.
I thought I would feel immediate relief to be away from the pain of a broken marriage and the constant rain of Portland. But, tears would spring up out of nowhere, and my heart wouldn’t stop pounding as my body went into overdrive setting up my new home. This was it. I traded in my 3 bedroom 2 1/2 bathroom house with a private backyard, meditation garden, and my huge bathroom with a walk-in closet for a studio apartment across the street from the beach. The decision I had been contemplating for 5 years was made. I finally pulled the trigger!
Walking the beach was the only thing that slowed my heart rate and grounded me. When I wasn’t ordering furniture on Amazon, or trying to figure out my new city, I was walking the beach. Living in Portland, I didn’t have shorts and t shirts that I wore outside, just around the house. So, I wore my work out shorts that I have had for 6 years and a tank top that I bought at Sears 10 years ago, and walked the beach trying to figure out my new life.
My car finally arrived. My cherry red BMW with tinted windows, low profile tires and sunroof seemed to smile at me as it rolled off the transport. The sun made it sparkle, and I almost hugged the driver as I signed the paperwork to accept my car. Just like me, my car never fit-in in Portland. It is a California car, and it could finally cruise the highway at speeds over 50 MPH and live up to its full potential of all it had to offer.
I jumped in my car with its black seats with red stitching and drove to Cost Plus, Target and other stores to get sheets, blankets and some items to decorate my new home. As I walked through the stores, my mind went back to buying all these same items for my family home years ago. It seemed that every store was playing a sad love song, and my mind would fog over as I tried to find pots and pans and come to grips with the reality that I was buying these items just for me.
I loved having a family. I loved being a wife and being a mother. I loved creating our home in Portland. Everything in my home was well thought out and bought as cheaply as possible. As I wandered through the aisles I thought back to the beginning of my marriage when my husband and baby would always accompany me on these outings. We would all get lunch together, or stop by a playground for my daughter on the way home. My husband and I stopped going shopping together. We stopped picking out things for the house together. We stopped planning together, and being together. My eyes filled with tears as I strolled my cart around Target. I missed him. I missed the way we used to be, and more than that, missed what I thought we would eventually be.
We were a great team, and lived cheaply for a long time to make ends meet. We both loved our daughter and showered her with affection and love. We were in our own bubble of love and building a family. There was no place I would have rather been, and all my energy went to building and preserving our family.
But as our daughter entered high school, my husband and I started to lose our connection. My daughter was spreading her wings, and I started spreading mine. I started traveling more, and exploring. My daughter was soon going to leave us, and go off to college. What was I going to do?
On our trip to tour UCLA, my daughter and I stayed in Redondo Beach. We fell asleep on the beach fully dressed listening to the waves and feeling the sun. We laugh to this day how we both just passed out, me with my head resting on my purse and my daughter laying on her sweatshirt. But I felt peace here. I felt calm here. I felt I could find the answers that my heart was searching for here. I went back to Portland but couldn’t get the beach out of my head.
So, 5 years later here I am. I moved here. My emotions when I first got here were like the waves of the ocean. Crashing and huge one minute, and the next minute serenely sweeping across the sand. I ordered all my furniture from Amazon and assembled it myself. I started my new job. It was the holidays so we had office parties, and coworkers invited me to their house parties. I attended everything, putting myself out there to meet new people. I reached out to my friends on Instagram that lived here and asked to meet for coffee, a hike, or dinner. I found my grocery store, my hairdresser, and my nail person. I am establishing myself in a new city, creating a new life, having new experiences.
My happy days are starting to outnumber my sad ones. I have no idea what I am going to feel like this time next year, or what my life will look like and who will be in it. It is scary, but it is also exciting, and more than anything I am curious about it. One thing that I do know, is that it is completely up to me what happens next.