According to our year-end stats, people are actually reading my blog, and that has inspired me to get a little more active here in my virtual journal-land. Thanks for your continued interest and encouragement during my big transition to living in California!
My head has been spinning since first arrived in California on December 5th, returned to Seattle, attended meetings in Spokane (to wrap up work), and returned to California once again, all within a two-week period. In the last month, I signed a lease on an apartment, broke said lease, ignored Christmas and celebrated New Years Eve at a fun dance in the Castro, followed by midnight hitch-hiking and hysterical laughter with Kytha, have attended numerous yoga classes and dharma talks, seen every movie of interest, started the new job, was laid off the new job, signed a contract to work for the Santa Clara Mental Health Department instead, made a few new friends, and am preparing to move to a flat in San Francisco, right in the heart of the city’s Mission district, across the street from the women’s building. Whew! 18th Street is a thoroughfare for the annual dyke march and Critical Mass bike ride, among other political and social activities. Talk about culture shock (honey, we’re not in Kansas anymore…or Bainbridge Island, for that matter).
I’m finding it easy to connect with the lesbian community, thanks to the internet, friends, and “Meet Up” groups. My roommate teaches yoga, and through her, I’ve made some nice connections which led to activities such as eating dim-sum on Christmas day and attending a cheese-tasting party at a local goat farm. I enjoyed Christmas dinner with Terri and her co-housing neighbors and family. Cousin Joe and his handsome gay friends took me out for a night of dinner and live music at the Rrazz Room, a small dinner club located at the ritzy Hotel Nikko in SF. I spent a glorious, sunny day at Ocean Beach and Golden Gate Park with a new friend. It appears that I’m going at a rather frantic social pace, however, and I’m admittedly packing a lot in before work starts again, and I’m back to parenting when Jack joins me. My spirit is thriving here, despite the unexpected upsets along the way – the abrupt ending to work after only 7 days on the job, thinking I moved here and would now be unemployed, losing my deposit on the new apartment, losing my wallet, having my bank-account frozen for a week, and missing my son and Island friends, among other things!
All of these trials and mis-steps have pushed me to the outer edges of my emotional limits. One day, when I thought I was unemployed, my bank account was frozen, and my wallet, missing, I had a major meltdown. Sitting in the parking lot at DMV, wondering how many hours of torture I would have to endure to obtain a California driver’s license, the phone rang. Even before I could answer, I burst into tears, seeing that Jillian was on the other line, and would know just what to say to help me put things in perspective. Five blubbering minutes later, I was giggling at the absurdity of my situation, and had braved the long line, waiting to have my picture taken with bright red eyes and a swollen face. The photo was horrible, but I was miraculously out of there in 35 minutes, even with having to take the written exam! Things improved from there – I found my wallet, I got a new contract, and my assets were freed up by Wells Fargo (whereupon I immediately closed my new account).
Friends and loved ones have spent hours on the phone and emailing me (you know who you are). Attending dharma talks and practicing Buddhism have also helped me keep perspective, and to stay focused on gratitude and what is working (I’m making great new friends, getting a break from work and parenting for the first time in years, I have a terrific place to live, I’m getting the luxury of socializing to my heart’s content, and getting to focus solely on taking care of myself, among other things).
Ultimately, this experience has illustrated that even when we are stripped of our work, our money, our belongings, all that’s familiar – even our identification, what hopefully remains are the loving relationships that sustain us, along with our faith. Of all the things I could lose, the most painful would be the love of my friends and family. How lucky am I, that in the midst of all the drama and uncertainty of the last month, I knew my friends were there for me in any way I needed, day or night. And really, what was the worst that could happen?
I’m also reflecting on my own progress and personal growth. A year and a half ago, during another very challenging time (my mother dying, among a list of other things), I reacted in a self-destructive way that only inflicted more pain and misery upon myself. This time, I’m staying connected with others, taking care of myself, and reaching out, rather than giving in to momentary fear and overwhelm. Everything passes, even misery. We must remember that, and never give in to the momentary pain that life will inevitably cast upon us.
Dedicated to Gracie, I still miss you, my little friend.