I’ve lived down in Orange County now for six months. I’ve tried really hard to like it here, but it’s as though every fiber of my being is resisting. I’m reluctant to make friends and form relationships. For the first time in years, I consistently feel like I'm not figuring it out. I am no longer confident in who I am.
I moved here because I found a job, and my parents were here, and after being in NC, it was a job in California, where I wanted to be anyway, so I took it. And really? It’s not that bad. The riding is pretty awesome. The weather is super bueno. My job’s okay, even though the pay is shitty. I can drive to SLO in 4 hours from here. But yet. Half the time I feel numb—like I’m just getting through each day, and that in itself is sometimes satisfying.
But I ache, as always, for SLO. I've also learned, the very hard way, that it is extremely difficult (visual: picture rug. Pull rug out swiftly beneath feet. Crash hard) to go from being a very independent girl, living across the country, figuring it all out, to living back with family and trying to make decisions that are good for the family. Some days I don't know who I am anymore.
My argument, upon taking this job, was thus: At least I’ll be driving distance from SLO. Surely I’ll meet people here. I’ll like it eventually. I’ll make friends here. If I move back to SLO, I won’t have a good job—here I can continue on this advertising path I’ve been on the last three years. It’s the most practical decision.
But you know what? After 6 months, I’m tired of being practical. Well, let’s be honest—after 3 ½ years, I’m tired of being safe and constantly chasing the responsible decisions. I’ve resisted that town and thrown myself into new places because I wanted to step out, and have a good career, and have new adventures, and all that.
Quite honestly, I’m glad I left SLO. I think I needed more texture in my life. But since I left, I have never found that deep happiness, that pure contentment, of living in a place I absolutely adore. But beyond the town, I miss my friendships there. I have certainly formed other relationships in other places, but I miss those crazy people there whom I would give anything for.
There’s something about the bond you have with people who you've been through the very formative decade of your 20s with. We grew up together, essentially. I moved to SLO an unsure, insecure person. Six years there taught me to fall in love with life. I'm fortunate that many of my friends still live there. In my wanderings and travels these past few years, nothing else has filled that void left by leaving them behind.
But because I’m still half-practical, my plan is to stay here until July—make it a full year. I’ll be able to save up some money (oh—ha ha! Did I mention I live with my parents down here?) and then I’ll find my way back to that town that I’ve had a solid love affair with for the last ten years. I don’t know what I’ll do for a living anymore—that’s where I’m throwing out my conventional side and am finally ready to start listening to my heart. Or maybe my low serotonin levels.
Anyhow, I’d rather be poor and scrape together a living and live where I really want to live, around the people I want to interact with every day*, than live in a place where I can continue on this career of convincing people they should buy more things.
*Not that I don’t want to interact with you every day, M&D—you two should move the Central Coast, too.