I used to live in San Diego, and I loved it. Until I didn’t. This happens with jobs, men, desert island food picks and homes, everything really over time. They just stop fitting anymore. I think that is true for all of us.
I am however, wired for pleasure to extract as much joy and fun from my day as possible. Reading that sounds like I am a hedonist. I am. In a very structured, semi-logical, OCD kind of way. Think Doctor Doolittle’s two headed Push me-Pull me creature where one head is Dorothy Parker and the other is Hermione from Harry Potter. Whether you ascribe to Push-me-Pull-me, balance, Yin & Yang the duality of what we want versus what we are told we should want it’s all the same.
I enjoy tweaking my life in small ways to extract that better experience, more fun. The same holds true with larger changes and jumps leading to a better fit. I think of it as curating my life to me, to celebrate my strengths and accommodate my quirks with kindness instead of derision. A tee shirt is never one size fits all, ever, no matter what it says. So why would my life or yours be that way?
It’s not, but marketing on social media tells us differently which is bullshit. Why would we want all matchy matchy to someone else’s fictional life? It’s not like what is on Instagram or Tick-Tok is real, it is just content, not life.
I loved San Diego and loved South Park, where I lived, enormously. The sun, the walkability, the festive walkabouts celebrating each season and the neighborhood. There were beautiful houses, unique restaurants, classic dive bars, cool shops. It was fabulous. The world was so close, convenient and buzzing with life. I lived there for 13 years and loved it for 10-11 of them.
To get to my place you had to go down 30th street from North Park through Switzer Canyon with a view of downtown. When you get to the stop sign at Juniper at Mazara’s restaurant, 30th takes a jog to the right, then a quick left and after the next stop sign you are back on 30th. Go down past the Shepard Fairey mural on the yellow brick building on the right and I was in the terra cotta four-plex on the next block. That is how you found me in San Diego.
My markers for my life, accessible, beautiful, sunny, a community close to everything were the markers to where I lived. Not just directions, but these components were things that stuck out to me and reflected my world. That is where I was.
Being able to recognize that I am in the beginning of needing a change is tricky at first. It looks a lot like crankiness. The components of my daily life start causing friction for me, my psyche, my soul. What used to feel good and fit slips over the line to starting to chafe, to be uncomfortable, to cause pain. I don’t notice this at first, it comes out as impatience, annoyance, and of course cranky.
“It’s too hot- 90 degrees in October?!”
“It’s sunny all the time, what I’d give for a cloudy day or some rain for a change.”
“It is so noisy, I can hear everyone and their fucking dogs, all the time!”
Drip, drip, drip… What no long works started to wear, to rub like a cheap shoe going from annoying, to uncomfortable to painful. It’s a process we experience all the time that mostly goes unnoticed. What we like at 10, 25, 40 or 65 is not always the same. Yes, some things stay consistent. For me that has been pizza, and reading, two loves still.
Very little lasts though all my incarnations. I grow and change like all living things; I can’t say these changes are easy or neat. They are not, they are wrought with worry, an unseemly level of messiness, second guessing, and overall, it sucks. But unfortunately, these are the circumstances attached with drawing a breath and being a living thing.
It was a late 2018 early 2019 when I first thought about moving in a serious way. I waffled. Letting go of my all but rent controlled apartment in a posh part of town. Letting go of my easy commute and jobs I enjoyed at SDSU. On the other hand, I was getting frustrated with the red tape and politics, the crowds, the noise, and the heat. I knew I had three years to make it into the CalPers retirement system in California, so I believed any big life changes were on hold. I was okay with that but not thrilled. I was finding everyday life slowly rubbing me the wrong way.
I thought I could look around on vacations and sus out a good next jump. I was missing some more varied weather, distinct seasons, lush green, little to no snow. A smaller town near a bigger town, a bit rural in nature. I needed to be out of the city and the noise of neighbors above me inexpertly juggling bowling balls, incessant barking dogs 30 feet from my desk while I attempted to work all the while spiking my blood pressure and swearing like a newly minted rapper. I needed to get away from the drivers on 30th street revving their engines and racing from stop sign to stop sign 12 feet from my living room.
I needed away from the new neighbors who treated our shared small walkway as their personal porch and held long, loud, in-depth conversations between the walkway and deep into their apartment about coffee and the minutia of life. There also were more than a few sightings of a 65-year-old butt crack in board shorts six feet from my desk as I tried to focus on work instead of my large picture window framing ass and the racket happening outside. If you are going to be loud and intrusive at least be interesting. If they were gossiping outrageously about a friend who petitioned to marry their hedgehog and were wearing bolero’s and clown shoes I might not have minded so much.
COVID came six months later and six months after that my contract for full time employment at SDSU was not renewed do to downsizing. It was just like working at Apple again with yearly lay-offs, only without the six-figure salary. I still had my part time teaching gig with SDSU and clients but was no longer tethered to San Diego or California thanks to a remote life. I lost the chance at retirement in the California system and my reason to stay was up in smoke. I was angry and frustrated but within 24 hours I acknowledged the hard shove from the Universe to move down the road to whatever was next.
A vaccine allowed a search for a new home and subsequent move. God knows there are stories there to be told but for now the summary word for those experiences is arduous, to say the least.
So now instead of being in a beautiful city with too many people, too much noise, too hot and too close to people I am in very rural, very green spot in Oregon. The runner up state for my 2008 move to San Diego. I am no longer down 30th, past Switzer Canyon, a jog to the right at Mazara’s on Juniper and a left on 30th, past Shepard Fairey’s mural on the yellow brick building in a terra cotta four plex on the next block.
Where I am now? I hadn’t really thought about it in those San Diego life defining terms until I had to give directions to my friend Erika who was trekking up to see me from Sacramento. I live in a small unincorporated town of about 1,200 people, southwest of Roseburg a bit. It’s a 5-acre parcel with a little blue house, surrounded by trees, deer, turkeys. It’s very quiet, so dark at night you see a crazy number of stars and it has a woodstove. There is no landline access, ok cell reception but only provided by two carriers and I have fiber optic to the house…go figure. It’s 20-23 minutes to a small town for essentials and 35 to Roseburg. Most of the time I love it though the bugs are many and large and too enthusiastic for my liking. I like nature to stay outside, not inside, and it doesn’t always cooperate.
I work remotely, still teaching part -time for SDSU and with my coaching clients. This gives me time to write and think about this next chapter in between bug drama. It’s a huge change but I lived like this 30 years ago. I am getting good at skills I had not used since then like stacking a cord or two of firewood, making a fire in a wood stove, dealing with the distance for getting help and resources in common sense ways. Sometimes I have to wait to go up to Eugene, “the city” to get what I need from a Trader Joe’s, Target or visit any clothing store that doesn’t carry barnyard wear. Which I like but does not meet all my fashion needs.
I am getting better at being uncomfortable in a new place, with new people, finding new ways to solve old problems. I have to remind myself this is my new normal and that is why it feels weird, until one day I don’t notice and my new normal is just normal.
Where do I live now? Well, I tell you what I told Erika. You take a right off Hwy 42 onto Upper Camas Road. Camas twists and turns for about 2-3 miles. You know you are getting close to my road when you see a turquoise house with Sasquatch in the side yard, go down about 500 feet bearing to the left and you will see a good-sized Jesus sign on the side of a house. Directly after that around the bend on the right is a pink bike mounted to a tree halfway up the trunk and that is where you turn left.
These are the markers to where I live. Not just directions, but these components are things that stick out to me and reflect my world. That is where I am. That’s right, I’m right past Sasquatch, Jesus and a pink bike on a tree living in a mythical, magical adventure land with really giant bugs.
To read more of my work go to quirkandcircumstances.com
To learn more about my Coaching practice go to trueroadtraveler.com