I am Home
I cried, well no, I sobbed hysterically as my husband drove me to the airport a year ago today. Because I knew our marriage was over. I knew that he wouldn’t join me in Southern California as we had talked about on and off ever since I got the job here. When he dropped me off I hugged him at the curb and that is the last time I saw him. I told him that I hope he finds what he is looking for, because it obviously wasn’t me.
Once I got inside the airport I pulled myself together, and tried to fight the urge to pee myself and sob in front of strangers. It felt like my body was possessed and I could barely control my regular functions. I was sad and shaking, but I was also relieved. I was doing it. I was leaving. Over the past 5 years I had threatened to leave and asked for a divorce so many times, but then I would find myself sitting on the couch with my cats watching TV, not going anywhere. But there was always a part of me that was edgy, unsatisfied, angry and waiting for a time to escape.
A year ago today, I finally escaped. I walked out the front door to my home in Portland knowing that I would never return. I knew that I would never sit on that couch again with my cats and say nothing, when I had so much to say. I knew that I would never try to explain myself to someone who really had no desire to find out what I was talking about anyway. I knew that I would never feel the need to justify my desires and wants again, that I could just feel and act on them without feeling like I was being selfish. I knew that my life would never be the same, because for the first time I was choosing me without the need to explain anything to anyone.
5 years ago I came to Los Angeles on vacation with my daughter. We were going on college tours, and that was my focus. We stayed in Redondo Beach because as a little girl, I lived about 10 minutes from here so I was familiar with the area, and the hotels were cheap. We stayed at a Best Western on Pacific Coast Highway, and every morning I would walk down to Peet’s Coffee and get us iced Americanos. That simple task of walking towards the beach and getting coffee changed me. I heard the ocean and felt the warm sun on my face. In the coffee shop people were happy, smiling and friendly. It was during these walks my life changed. It hit me like a ton of bricks out of nowhere. This was going to be my home one day. I just knew it.
Over the next years, my desire to live in Southern California would come and go. But it never completely left, and I never forgot the feeling I had when I was here. I felt like I belonged. Up until that point in my life, I had always felt like an observer. Like I was outside looking in on everyone living their lives. I didn’t fully feel a part of things. I thought it was because I am a writer, so observing is my thing, but it was frustrating for me not to be able to fully engage in life.
It had been my goal for so long to have a family. I thought that would make me feel like I belonged. I loved my family but there was still a part of me that could never fully let my guard down. There was still a part of me that felt like I had to prove something. To who? Maybe myself, I don’t know. I was always looking to the future, planning, taking care of things. Never fully living in the moment. When my daughter went off to college, I felt a void. As happy as I was for her, I was sad for me. So now what?
I had a lot of years left to live, what was I going to do with them? My husband and I had grown apart over the years, and we weren’t interested in the same things. It was exhausting to constantly try to explain to him how important writing this blog and creating my art was to me. I felt like it was my turn to just do ‘me’, and wanted his support. But he wanted to just do ‘him’. And we drifted further and further apart.
I can’t believe it has been a year since I left Portland. It feels like yesterday, but also I know that I have changed so much. Due to the pandemic I have really had the time to focus on healing and being with my hurt and sadness that I used to try and avoid. It has been a year of growth for me. Every day I feel myself grow a little more, and every day I feel myself making peace with the past. I am not angry anymore. I am not sad anymore. I spent so much time trying to get something I needed from someone who was incapable of giving it to me.
So, today is my year anniversary of taking the one way flight to my new home in Redondo Beach. It took me 5 years to finally have the courage to do it, and I could be sad about those 5 years. I could have regrets that I wasn’t strong enough to leave sooner, but instead I choose to be grateful. Today could have marked 6 years of wanting to live here instead of 1 year of being here.
The future is wide open, sometimes a little too wide open as I am trying not to plan like I used to, but follow my heart instead. I know that I will live here for the rest of my life, keep writing this blog, and keep creating my art. But everything else is subject to change. And for the first time in my life that is ok. My need to plan and control everything in order to feel engaged in life, was the very thing that was keeping me at a distance.
I remember the woman I was a year ago on this day. The woman that boarded that plane trying to not pee herself or bust out hysterically crying. The woman who left everything else behind and loaded her 4 suitcases into the car that picked her up at LAX. I will never forget seeing the ocean as the car drove over the hill. I was alone, I was scared, but I smiled because I knew I was home.