The signature’s been sent. The paperwork is done. We’re moving west.
It was bright in the living room this morning when I woke from dreams of standing on the Marin headlands, gazing over the Golden Gate as the woolen fog coating the Pacific peeled back and revealed the sun, golden and perfuse, as only it can be in California.
I suppose the eastern dawn had come gradually, but I wasn’t aware enough to appreciate its approach. I slipped in and out of California dreams during those hours of the morning between the instant awareness and narcolepsy that comes from having a sleeping newborn stir and soothe while cuddled to your chest. The sunlight through the blinds seemed green and pale, as though the impermeable cloud of spring pollen had made its way into our home and coated even my eyelids with fertile particulate matter. It occurred to me that in a few short weeks, we’d be free of pollen and humidity. But we’d also be leaving behind the distinct lushness of the approaching Spring. Arid climates cannot replicate the feeling of anticipation just before the whole world erupts into moist, honey-scented bloom.
When I was young, I used to imagine the world turned black and white when the sun went down. That the colors of the world leeched down into the soil and out the other side of the earth to where the sun was rising. Then we moved when I was 7, and the street lamps across from my window in our new home showed the world in sickly neon shades of buzzing orange and purple.
“San Francisco. Dawn like tarnished silver.” – Virtual Light, William Gibson.
I wonder what will shift in my son’s world, what his new life will be colored with, all the way across the continent in California.
Four days after our second son was born, my husband got a call from Apple. THE call. They wanted him and they wanted to make it happen fast. And, we supposed, in our few lucid moments in between bouts of hysterical laughter and morose tears, it really wasn’t a bad time to take a chance on a company that sounds like a perfect fit for everything that my husband wants in a job. I’m feeling gloriously improved just from the mere fact of NOT being pregnant anymore. I have powerful hormones running amok through my body that make the sleep deprivation and fatigue seem like inconsequential trivialities. The little bundle of urping, burping, squelching, screaming need is healthy, hale and utterly beautiful. Our eldest is adjusting to being a big brother with grace, patience and love. After a year of recovery from the karmic kicks in the ass that afflicted us in 2010, we find ourselves balanced enough to actually consider the job offer on its merits, rather than succumb to the overwhelming panic of moving barely a month post-partum.
We have two weeks now to say our goodbyes to the loveliest place we’ve lived so far. Two weeks to help our sensitive, shy, structure-craving, consistency-needing 4-year old understand how this will affect his life. Two weeks to pack up the chaotic mess of a post-partum home. Two weeks to help my family, my parents to understand that we will visit, we do love them, we’re not being irresponsible, this is the right move for our family. Two weeks to say so long to best friends and neighbors who have made our lives so much richer and happier over these past three years.
I know it’s not fair to remind everyone that we’ve always been a flight risk. Because even my husband and I, self-professed technomads, played around with the idea of making this home, this neighborhood a permanent stopping point in our lives. The place where you grow up together, letting your kids hop fences after school and play until dinner. Where you joke about whose child is going to be the trouble maker or heart breaker, and you share a beer together on the back deck with parents just as caring and down to earth as you aspire to be.
But California’s always been there in the back of our minds. Like London, Sydney and Paris are, figments of possible realities, the what-if’s tempered with the could-be’s. Maybe. Until recently, I wasn’t ready. I kept falling back on the old standard retort that I had too much black in my wardrobe to be happy in California. A pointless defense. My wardrobe is covered in spit up, grass stains, snot, breastmilk and drool. Parenting has granolaed us gradually to a point where we can’t imagine not composting, being part of an organic co-op, or biking to work. If there’s any place for us to find like-minded spirits, I expect we won’t have to look far around SF.
And so we find ourselves dreaming about Yosemite, Napa, Monterey, redwoods, sushi, surfing, cable cars, and twisty hills in between diaper changes and late afternoon naps. And in those moments when we start to worry, when the details seem impossibly complex and the logistics near impossible, there’s nothing quite as calming for the blood pressure as a peaceful sleeping baby in one’s arms or a cuddling four year old as he whispers “I love you.”
Wish us luck.