When we came to the desert a little less than two years ago for A.’s interview, I sat on a park bench on the only green swatch of land I had seen for miles, nursed five-month-old CM and watched the black ravens fly from tree to tree. They looked at me with their beady, smart eyes, their wing-spans longer than I am tall and shouted: “Caw, caw!” I heard: “Scram, scram!”
The playground was empty, a far cry from the always full playground in D.C. I felt lonely in that moment — and hormonal and exhausted — and I knew we were moving to place I never would have picked. I cried that afternoon on the car ride back to L.A. “I like change and I like to think I am adventurous,” I choked out to A. “But maybe I’m fooling myself.”
A. was seeking a simpler life, away from the bustle of the city. He wanted quiet. Open land. Solitude. And the job was a perfect fit. I knew coupling with A. meant adventure and change, but this wasn’t the change I had in mind. All I could think of was what I was losing: a job I loved, my friends, my community. Logically, I knew this was a chance to explore California and the West Coast and stay home with my son, but even though the move was short-term, my heart was unsure.
We’ve lived here for a year and a half now, and this is what I can say with confidence: I choose my own happiness. All I have to do is focus on what’s beautiful about being here — the warm winters, the sunshine, the quiet, the fruit trees in our backyard, the undistracted time with my little ones, my pottery teacher and her studio, the mountains, A.’s flexible work schedule — and I feel at peace.
Also, we are officially re-calibrated. The simplest things are now exciting. We went bowling a few weeks ago and I broke 100 for the first time in my life and it was a MAJOR LIFE ACCOMPLISHMENT. We took the train to San Francisco for a wedding when CP was a month old, and ate Indian food, and it was THE BEST INDIAN FOOD IN CALIFORNIA. I walked into an Anthropologie and saw THE MOST BEAUTIFUL DRESSES EVER MADE.
When we lived in the heart of the city, we took good food, good friends, good museums for granted. And, I often felt bad because I was over-booked, over-tired and felt under-accomplished.
I’ve learned that living simply — in a place with zero good restaurants, no shopping and little entertainment but an incredible amount of sunshine, fresh fruit and fresh air — is in many ways healthier for me. And it allows me to experience life’s pleasures in a more intense way.