Sunday, June 1, 2014

I dream of Jeanie, and home.

I grew up all over New England, but spent most of my adolescent years between upstate New York and New Hampshire. When I was 15 my mother and her fiance brought me to San Diego for a trip. I fell in love with downtown San Diego and La Jolla, the ease of life and lazy pace in the sun. I saw the surfers and palm trees in March when it was snowing and cold back in NH and instantly decided I could be happy there. After returning to NH the San Diego warmth never really left my bones.

When I was 17 I was getting ready to apply for colleges when I started seeing posters, commercials, and articles about living in Southern California. I took it all as a sign that I needed to move out there for college. I got accepted into the Art Institute in San Diego, and when my mother and I moved cross-country, I was ecstatic. Fast-foward to a few weeks later when my mother was driving me down from Oxnard to San Diego, and I began to realize San Diego is so much more than the popular tourist destinations we had visited. I broke down a week later in my apartment and cried to a stranger who came by selling newspapers door to door that I had made a terrible mistake and Southern California wasn't for me.

Talking to my mother about my breakdown the next day, she told me about a woman she ran into who was from upstate New York where we were from. The woman had relocated to SoCal 7 years ago, and the woman told my mother firmly "It takes about 5 years for you to get used to it, but after 5 years it'll be home."

I didn't believe that woman, as the first 2 years grated on me like sandpaper on a wound. I tried hard to coexist, but something felt like trying to shove a square peg in a triangle hole. I quickly fell in love with the terrain though, and the beauty of the palm trees, the dessert, the mountains, and everything nature offered within an hour's driving distance. Fast-forward to a Bachelor's degree, many friends, jobs, experiences, boyfriends, and a move to north of LA 4 years later, and I was living in Ventura. It made sense, it clicked, and I realized as it approached my 5-year anniversary, that north of the concrete and smog of LA and the Valley fit like a glove. 5 years after moving there, it had become home. But home didn't have job openings for me, and I made that bold move to move back to the East Coast after finding my cozy corner in a sleepy beachside city.

Virginia was lush, green and mountainous, just like my childhood. It had no palm trees, no dessert, and no smog, but it had work and a lot of it. I fell into step quickly with the East Coast pace of life, but something began to felt amiss. I began to push as it pulled. 3 months later I wound up in Southern Louisiana, a way of life so different from East and West it seems like a different country at times. 

But this different country has given me liberty to examine the coasts, like an outsider in the middle of a family quarrel. The question on my mind is:

Where do I belong?

My permanent home isn't in the south, this I have learned very quickly. Even though the South isn't my home, it's a wonderful place to explore.

 After all these years though, after the days of feeling like I'm being torn in two trying to decide between East and West coast, I've come to the conclusion my heart will always be split in two. I am from New England. Born and raised, I am a Yankee and will be until the day I die. I dream of the 4th of July in Boston at the harbor. I dream of Strawberry Banke in NH and The Old Man in the Mountain. I am also a hippie chick, one who loves everything the West coast has to offer, the festivals and granola and the liberals far and wide.

I have spent so long comparing one to the other, the Mexican food in the deep South to the places by the TJ border, the black and white cookies in L.A. to the ones from NYC, the fairs in NH to the ones in San Francisco, that I've grown exhausted from my quest to find home. Home, that place that fits like a glove. Home, that gritty, warm, fuzzy feeling where your dreams go at the end of the day. I dream of California. I dream of New England. 

I am meant to be bi-coastal, but if I had to chose one place and one place alone to spend the rest of my days, it would be New England. A piece of me will always be under the palm trees in Newport Beach, hidden in the cove at Refugio park, lost in the alleys of San Francisco, but where I felt the most gritty, warm, fuzzy feelings was the place it all started....

New England <.3

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