I admit: I cried my first full day in Ridgecrest. I was in the rental Civic with A., and we were driving to pick up our box of farm-fresh vegetables and fruits from the Women’s Center just after 4 p.m., and I lost it. I don’t know what set me off — it surprised me, too — but the tears flowed and A. didn’t know what to do except say with nervous laughter that my expression made him think I might commit murder or check myself into the Center.
After we loaded our box full of dill, pears, persimmons and more into the trunk, we drove to the Ford dealership to check out the Fiesta (which we ended up buying, thankthelordalmightly). A. disappeared on the lot with C. and the salesman, and I sat in the driver’s seat and cried some more. “What am I doing here?” I was thinking. “Why is everything so inconvenient?” “I miss my friends and my life in D.C.”
And when we left the lot, the tightness in my chest persisted as I gripped the steering wheel. I felt like I was choking with sadness, and I didn’t want to talk about it. It was 6 p.m., but it felt like 2 a.m. — a deep, lonely dark out. A. sat quietly in the passenger seat, C. was quiet in the back seat. There was this house decked out with Christmas lights and Santa and his reindeer and maybe baby Jesus, my vision was blurred from the tears, but I knew it was gaudy, and I cried, “Who the hell does this?!” and my tears tasted salty. There was this four-way stop sign, and thinking I was at a light, I zoned out for at least 2 minutes. A young woman crossed the street wearing a knitted hat, and I watched her and said: “And who wears a winter hat in this weather?” A. said gently, concerned: “Sweetie, are you going to go?” and I shook myself out of my trance and hit the gas pedal.
That first day, I didn’t have a car. I was home-bound and Internet-less in a town where I know nobody and I felt out of control. I had thought it would be fine since I had unpacking to do. I was tired from travel, dehydrated from the desert air and hormonal (as one friend said, “F u hormones!”). And that morning I shattered a glass in the kitchen and was furiously trying to clean up the shards on the white tile floor when C. woke up from his nap, screaming his head off, but I needed to be sure all of the glass was gone before I could let him toddle around the kitchen. And our garage door doesn’t shut, so that afternoon I went to close it manually from the driveway and I somehow stupidly crushed the tips of my fingers in one of the cracks. And we’re still waiting on a washer/dryer and our dishwasher is broken. And it was just that kind of day — bright and sunny — and still somehow desperately lonely.
I know I struggle when I don’t leave the house — I’m not sure why I thought I’d be OK that first day here, but I was wrong, and I suffered.
I’ve since changed my mindset. I’m having conversations with locals who work at the museum and the bookstore. I’ve gone on coffee dates with women who are in the Ridgecrest Writer’s Group. I met an elderly women who teaches pottery at her house up the road. We’re running a 5K in town on Saturday morning and going to a potluck afterward.
And I’ve decided that it’s a good thing there’s nothing to do here cause then I’ll read and write and cook instead of being distracted, cause I’m good at being distracted.
The weekends are for exploring, but during the week — that’s when I can (and should) embrace the quiet. I can look out at the mountains — there’s a view from nearly every part of town, inhale the fresh air and really focus. Because I have a feeling that when this time is over, I’ll miss it.