Ten years ago this week, I rolled into California.

Brady's cafe, 2001?I had dreams when I packed up and moved west. Those dreams transformed themselves and looking back, I couldn’t have dreamt the wild ride that has been the last 10 years. I have new dreams and developing realities. Most stunning to me are the parts of my life (which mean the most) were not even on the horizon 10 years ago— Siddhartha, Sweetpea, Sky Harbor, my house (Wildlands), my career at ESA, my friends. It took ten years, but I feel settled as I once did in Kent. I have a community here that I love and who take pretty good care of this Ohio girl.

When I pulled out of my mom’s driveway in Kent, my grandfather waving goodbye to me, leaning against a rake, I thought I’d be back within a year or two or three. I didn’t realise then—-I wasn’t leaving home, I was headed there.

Ten years. It’s hard to pick out the choices which lead me to stay here. Honestly, I just felt the drive to stay here. Out of pride, out of desire, out of uncertainty— if i didn’t belong in CA, where did I belong?

It has flaws; highs and lows, but most crucial to me, this is my life, created by my own choices. I’m back home at Wildlands from a week at a beach house in Stinson’s with a few friends and the dogs.

Is this where I thought I’d be when I pulled into Fresno ten years ago? Certainly not. Not really sure where I thought I’d be, or with whom I’d be doing it. In the end, I turn my thoughts to my favorite Grateful Dead song lyric—- “sometimes we live no particular way but our own.”

How true.

I came to CA ten years ago, following a Berkeley law student. I had no long term plans beyond getting an emergency teaching credential and finding a job. I did that within the first month and taught science & math (3rd-8th grade) for a year at a private school. After that, I traveled. I wandered.

Not all who wander are lost.

All those big sky days, crashing waves, delta breezes—those rolling golden hills of California. I am tied to this landscape as some are tied to people. I have worked terribly hard and have achieved more than I’d ever thought possible. I’m the lyrics to Here in California and all the other songs along the way which have provided comfort while looking out at the landscape I love.

It’s hard for me to really believe all the things I’ve done in the last 1o years. A lot of it seems incredible now—incredibly real, hard, mind blowing, joyful, lustful, and the core of my foundation as an adult. I look around Wildlands and smirk when i recall for several years, I had only a 5x5x8 foot storage bin in Santa Barbara.

Years before Sweetpea adopted me at the house in Midtown, years before I brought Siddhartha home— how I was changed by my time in the desert, how these furry creatures transformed me, softened me. My life is now balanced— a successful career, a community of friends here in Sacramento, an art studio above the garage, and a Jeep parked out front. Two beautiful labbies, one fat furry cat companion, and me. I’ve struck a balance, finally.  While I may mention things, they represent symbols of this balance. Artist. Scientist. Social creature. Seeker of wild places.

jig short hairHappy 10th anniversary to me. To celebrate, I shall take Siddhartha and Sky Harbor to the dog park, come home, feed the cat, and curl up to work on a cost proposal before I return to work tomorrow. Doesn’t sound like much of a celebration? Nah. I celebrated in small ways all last week— a decadent dinner at Stellina in Pt. Reyes Station, the beach house rental on Stinsons Beach, and most superficially, my new pair of crazy big sunglasses.

Life is good. It was made by me, for me, and I thank everyone who has contributed to my life—its success and my personal growth. I carry you, I carry you in my heart.

Love to all.

JIG

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