This is a sign of my location. These tropical, regal looking trees are a sign to me that I live in California, not just a nursing home in the middle of nowhere.
They sway in the breeze among the crystal clear blue sky. Dear California, keep breathing. Though I haven’t seen much of you since I arrived there is so much life and sweetness that I’ve already witnessed. This life in nature keeps me going. It keeps my heart beating and hope flowing that I might one day see more of this lushes new home.
It’s been rough for the world. I know. It’s been hard on all of us. I know. However, there’s still life that flows. I look forward to walking down the street and hanging out with friends in a world where masks are not being worn as much. I look forward to breathing the fresh air and delighting in all of the sweet smells that perfume the streets.
Though there has been a Great Pause this summer and I have not done all that I thought, or seen people that I wanted to see, looking at these trees makes my heart glow. It’s a reminder that I did it! My 11-year-old self was so deeply in love with California that she said “One day I’m going live in California!”
As I grew up I didn’t believe it. It didn’t seem possible to me and the rational adult that was forming said “I’m not moving anywhere without a job”. However, I was too scared to really look for work. I was listening to my inner critic, the big scary judge and the jury that said “You’re not skilled enough to look for work away from home. You’ll never make it! Don’t even try!” So I just waited for something…but I was restless and not sure that any kind of something would come.
I prayed. I listened. I waited. I tried to hear my heart, feel it even, but it wasn’t quite there. Some job options floated to the surface. Some options were in California, but it didn’t feel right. I was too scared, and bolted to where I was. Then one day something in me decided I was ready go, anywhere. So I looked around, I asked around, and a referral was made. Then there was a job application filled out, resume sent, and cover letter written. All the appropriate grown up documentation signed and delivered. Then the results.
A trial job offer. “How would you like to get paid, have free room and board, and work with children in Los Angeles, California?” was the gist of the offer.
Looking at this job offer letter every fiber of my being was wrestling with itself. “NO! You’re going to fucking mess it up. You’re not good enough or grown up enough to get something this good, this nice, or requiring responsibility.” The judge and jury screamed at me, “Remember McDonalds? That place you said you were going to work at because you’re not good enough for anything else? That’s your destiny, if there is such a thing. You’re supposed to live at home, disappoint your parents for eternity, and work at a run down fast food place for the rest of your life. This was too easy to get. You don’t deserve this.”
Well, among all that I had loving friends, professors, and family to remind me that I’m more than the inner judge and jury. I’m forever grateful for their gentle love and guidance.
Upon thinking about this move and job offer my 11-year-old self kicked in reminding me to dream again. Reminding me why from that young age I’ve been in love with California. The Land of Make Believe that made my heart glow, the Land of Possibility, tropical landscapes, architecture, and creativity for miles, like the crystal clear blue sky that stretched far and wide, art and creativity was home to California. I wanted to be home in myself and my creative life. So California always felt like a future home.
Adults in my life may have tried to deter me from this fantastical dream of living in California.
“So Barbara what’s on your bucket list?” they asked me.
“Well, I don’t have a bucket list, but one thing that I want to do is live in California!”
Their faces would contort in seeming disgust, “Ew, why would you want to live there?” They’d say, “It’s full of smoke, it’s too hot, and there is always so much traffic!”
Feeling unburdened and confident in my unconditional love for California I said, “Well, I still want to live there” and I left the conversation.
Hey guys! I DID IT! The rational adult, and the irrational young dreamer have merged to form this new life and person! It’s been strange, exciting, incredibly difficult, rough, and exhilarating. I made it to the Land of Make Believe. The place where dreamers flock to make something of themselves or to show others what they’ve already made of themselves. “This is my art, and my heart, and my soul. Look if you dare, judge if you must, but sticks and stones have broken these bones. Words can no longer hurt me because this is who I am and where I belong.”
California, though I’ve only seen a small sliver I delight in you already. I will do my best to wait out this strange shelter-in-place, mask wearing phase of human existence. It will make for some interesting stories to tell my children, and the next generation of kids. Come this fall surely I will get to reunite with you as a human being and explore more of your beauty. Until then, thank you for the palm trees!