It’s hard to believe that a year ago I was sitting in a house full of boxes, ready to take on another great adventure. It’s a surreal feeling. You find yourself standing on yet another cliff you have no choice but to dive off of, only this time you know there is a net at the bottom to catch you.
They say home is where the heart is. My heart was never on the East Coast, not in the two years I was there, not ever. So that morning, when the truck came to take our lives back home, I finally felt like I could breathe a little, like the anvil had been taken off my shoulders.
Everyone has their place and New Jersey wasn’t mine. It has become the embodiment and reminder of one of the more depressing moments of my life: a period of mourning, a period where I was removed from most of what I cared about. Sure, there were slivers of sunshine through the cracks in the ceiling but eventually the grey overcame and that is all it was: gloomy, dreary and full of mosquitoes sucking at your limbs. Literally.
And then the light at the end of the tunnel showed herself.
Being back in California has brought a sense of renewal, outlook and perspective. It’s not even about “California”, it’s about feeling grounded in a place where you know you belong. Where you don’t feel like a stranger, where the surrounding bodies of water and scenery cradle you with the arms of familiarity. A place you can rest your head and hear the heart beats with your eyes closed. That is home.
Stepping away from her really changed me. It brought out a maturity I never expected to see in myself. As cliche as it sounds, you never truly appreciate the things you have in your life until you come close to, or lose them all together. I lost a lot in those two years: friends, familiarity, safety, Nena, my brother, a piece of my self. It was a lot more than my fragile heart could handle despite the brave face I was putting on.
Even when times get tough, I feel sad, or find a sense of longing, I stop myself and think, “I could still be in New Jersey” and I instantly feel better. That entire experience taught me a lot about gratitude and appreciation, like you have no idea. Or maybe you do.
A year has gone by and what a good year it has been.