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There were a lot of things that did not go into that truck. My sister and her family. Our friends and their children. The smells of sage and eucalyptus and fog and jasmine and dusty, scrubby hillsides. The taste of the tomatoes and the cherries and the asparagus. The impossibly, sometimes infuriatingly stable weather. Views that are so incredible they are almost painful to take in. The bakeries. All the people we recognized every day but did not actually know. The bigness of it, the choices -- all the places to explore and play and eat and go that were right at our fingertips. Our lovely little house with all its precious memories.
Brandon and I agreed that leaving our home and our lives in California was exactly like the worst breakup ever. We were in love with her, desperately, but it just wasn't meant to be. We couldn't make the life we wanted with her. She was not a cheap date, and she was keeping us away from our parents. We couldn't raise our kids the way we envisioned because both of us were working and commuting. She was super hot, but she was aloof and refused to change for us. We had such incredibly good times with her. It was excruciating to let go.
Once we did, we compared everything to her and, predictably, she nearly always came out ahead. We talked about her too much and probably hindered our new relationships by seeming a little needy. I would forget what was wrong with her, and fantasize about running back. It was dreadfully annoying that we no longer had her, but a lot of other people still did. In the first half-second after I woke in the morning I would be confused about where I was and what life was surrounding me. I would stare at pictures and feel like the center of me was getting sucked down a drain.
This is all very melodramatic, and I loathe writing this way -- I much prefer to be flip and ridiculous. But relocating our family so drastically from a place we really did love was an incredibly difficult thing, much more difficult than I'd anticipated, and there wasn't much about it that was particularly funny. It didn't help that we were trying to figure out how to survive with a colicky, sleepless baby for our first three months here, and that I was saddled with a nasty case of post-partum-itis. Brandon commented (in concern) that he never saw me laugh anymore, which is an unmistakable sign that I was in a pretty deep well since I mostly can be relied upon to laugh at the stupidest things, including farts and bad TV.
People ask, how do you like North Carolina? And I honestly can't find fault with it. The challenge is not learning to like this -- it is letting go of that. This is a very pretty place, and the people are lovely. We haven't had a bad experience here yet. It has been a joy (and a lifesaver) to be so close to all the grandparents (a 2.5-hour drive); we've traded visits and shared holidays and our children know and adore all of them, as well as my (other) sister and her family. Our neighborhood is wooded and gorgeous, and our neighbors themselves have been beyond welcoming and kind, in a way that mostly eluded us in California.
It is hard to believe it's been a year already. Some of the sting has worn off, though I have to admit that sometimes hearing the wrong song at the wrong time can bring it back (seriously, the breakup analogy just doesn't quit). The other things that did not go on that truck are, unsurprisingly, what has saved me. Brandon and Elaine and Oliver, my running shoes and my favorite recipes. The emails and phone calls from my sisters, my parents, and my (now mostly remote) friends. Impossibly loud farts from my baby and my 5-year-old asking things like, "Mommy, how did the world become the world?" Fortunately, all those things are what actually comprise my happiness, and they are coming with me everywhere.
Sorry for the sap. I promise I'll go back to being flip and ridiculous in the near future.