San Diego was mine. The life I had there, I built. I chose which grocery store I liked rather than just going where my mom had always shopped. I found the parks that spoke to me and discovered great places to eat. As time passed I found I had history all over the city. Driving down Rosecrans with a friend I could say, "This was where a drunk driver hit me and totaled my car while I was kind of living out of it when I was in college and between apartments." Or, "That's the apartment I lived in with the pot smoking roommate." And "Last time I was here I was pregnant with my son." I began to feel a sense of ownership for the city and in many ways I became someone new because of it's influence. I learned to be comfortable around a huge variety of people, I became sensitive to the subtle change in the air when summer turned to fall, I became a master of the freeways and didn't fear traveling on new streets to new places and I gained a new family in a much more intimate church setting than I had previously experienced. I felt unique in my surroundings and yet felt like I belonged. If I can get those two feelings somewhere then I'm hooked. San Diego had become my home. Then... the economy crashed.
I could write a whole post about all that happened next but the punch line is we had to leave and my heart was truly broken. When we arrived in Utah with our whole lives packed in a truck we were greeted by my dad. I fell into his arms sobbing. I was a child in mourning. I knew we had made the right choice but that knowledge did not ease the pain of leaving the life I had built and all the people and places I loved so dearly. I cried regularly for the next six months. I wanted to go back so badly but I knew that visiting, even if we could have afforded it, would sting painfully. I would have to leave all over again and it would be like tearing off a fresh scab.
Time went by. My life was a lot of hard work but many good memories were made. I began collecting a new history in my childhood home. I got a job and had new experiences and built a new life. I gradually felt good and found that I no longer said to my husband in bed at night, "I just want to go home." And though I finally felt good about my new life I was still afraid to go back, to visit what had been so important to me. What if it didn't feel like home anymore? What if it still did? What if people weren't as excited to see me as I hoped? (I'm an over thinker.) But this summer I decided it was time. So after 2yrs and 9mos I packed up my kids, our boogie boards and a suitcase full of swimsuits and off we went.
And here we are. We've been here for 4 days now and I've learned some things. We're staying with a friend in the apartment building we used to live in so one thing I learned is that my internal compass still wants to take me to my old door when I'm holding bags of groceries. If you've spent any time in San Diego you know there are a lot of planes taking off and landing pretty much constantly. I learned that I still don't notice them and thank goodness because only tourists take notice of the planes! I've forgotten the order of the freeway exits and connections. I've grown accustomed to bigger parking spaces. I learned my spanish will come back a little when I hear it a lot and I can still boogie board. But what I really learned is that I have a new home and I will be happy to go back to it when its time to go. Sure, I will miss living 2 miles from the ocean but I've gained a back yard. I will always miss the National City swap meet and the piles and piles of fabric there for only $1.00/yd but I no longer live on a street with two strip clubs a bar and a "massage" parlor. And I still miss walking the boardwalk at night but I certainly don't miss walking all the way across the parking lot with my arms full of groceries and through a locked outer door to get them to my front door. I've learned that I've become accustomed to a new way of life. I've moved on and thats okay.
San Diego, you are like my first love. When we parted I felt like my life had ended but now that time has passed and we've had some distance I can see that it was for the best... But lets make sure we still have a little fling now and then. ;)