Sometimes you spend years searching for the answer to a great question in your life. You research options, weigh pros and cons, ask for advice, question your gut, and eventually you come to a decision. Other times you go through everything only to find yourself still at a loss as to what to do. You feel stuck, mired in indecision. The unanswered question gnaws at your brain, a mental parasite, sucking energy from you in a tiny but constant stream. And sometimes, if you are lucky, there is a perfect storm of thought and everything comes together with a strike of mental lightning. The decision is made. You are at peace.
I’ve really been struggling lately; whereby lately I mean the past eighteen months or so. I have alluded to feelings of depression before on this blog, but I’ve never been very specific. It hasn’t been a matter of hiding it per se, more that I didn’t know what to say. I have something to say now. I have been depressed and one of the major triggers of that depression has been a deep dissatisfaction with certain aspects of my life – namely my job and the challenge of balancing my need to work with my need to be with my children.
In the months after Thomas was born Jeff and I began to talk seriously of moving. It began with exploring the possibility of moving so that I would not have a long commute to work. We went so far as to contact real estate agents and look at houses. We came to the conclusion that such a move was not the best decision for us – thankfully, a conclusion that nearly three years later I believe was the right one. Those conversations sparked a greater idea in both of us; the idea that we might make a big move – to another state, to new jobs (or no jobs at all). We talk about the possibilities almost daily. Where might we go? What would we do? Rural life or city life? How much land do we want? Always holding us back from truly committing to an intensive search for a new place has been our family, our friends, and our home here. My sister is a mere 20 minute drive away and Jeff’s parents a one-hour car ride south. My parents are a five hour trip north, but my dad, the intrepid road warrior, doesn’t consider this much of a hindrance and they visit us often. It gives me great pleasure to see Thomas so comfortable and happy with his grandparents. Henry, who is going through an uptick of separation anxiety will still settle happily into his grandmother’s (both of them) or my sister’s arms when everyone else seems scary to him. I never really knew any of my grandparents or extended family and it is priceless to see the closeness between my children and their kin. I have wonderful friends here, women with whom I can talk about everything from sex to snot – friendships that have taken years to grow and find. And then there is our house. We bought our little piece of the American dream just after I turned twenty-four. I scraped off wallpaper, pulled out carpet tacks until my fingers bled. I found out that I was going to become a mother (twice) in our little bathroom. I spent my labor with Thomas walking round and round our living room in seemingly endless circles. Henry spent his first night on Earth tucked in between us in our bedroom. Pasadena is home to me in a deep and profound way that no where else has ever been.
And yet…I want to live in a place where it rains – really rains – with thunderstorms and lighting. I want my children to be able to attend a decent public school; one where they are not two of eight hundred students in an overcrowded elementary. I want to be able to afford an acre (or more!) or land. I want to plant tulips. I want to live in a place where our water, the most vital of all resources, is not imported from hundreds of miles away. I want to live in a place where the local paper publishes real news rather than endless coverage of the entertainment industry. I want to live in a place where we can live on one income and prosper.
Tonight I started reading a blog recommended by a friend of my sister’s. It is filled with beautiful writing and photographs and I found it absolutely riveting. I was struck by how the author seemed to feel about the place that he lives, Detroit. Though his writings I could see that ,despite its flaws, Detroit is his place – how he cares about the city and belongs there. And somewhere during the second hour of my devouring his blog it hit me like a moving truck. Southern California is not my place. While there are many things that make me happy here; it is not the place that does so. If we stay here, I will never stop looking for another place – my place. I have spent my entire life looking for a home and despite my thirteen years here my soul does not feel at home. I don’t want to spend the rest of my life wondering if the right place was out there. I want to find our place, move there, and make a home . That’s the epiphany and it feels wonderfully freeing to have come to a conclusion. I don’t know where we’ll end up, what we’ll do there, and when we will find it. But tonight I began to say goodbye to Pasadena and to start searching for what comes next.