A year ago I stood at the table in my Charlotte kitchen on a 100 degree day, folding laundry and packing jeans and scarves into a suitcase to go to San Francisco for a week.
Rob had been traveling back and forth for almost two months, and his company was flying me out to meet him in California and spend a week house hunting. We had just moved into this three bedroom, two bathroom rental with a huge open kitchen and a backyard and I was selfishly feeling heartbroken about leaving it so soon--the house for which we signed a two-year lease because we pictured ourselves staying in Charlotte forever, in a city big enough to be exciting but small enough to run into people you know at the coffee shop, close to family, full of great friends and, in a few years, a couple little kids running barefoot across the hardwood floors and into the yard with the dog. I pictured our little family walking to get tacos on a Tuesday night or hopping onto the light rail with a stroller for brunch at 7th Street Public Market on a Saturday morning.
But we were lucky enough to be presented with Rob's dream job, one that could change our lives in so many ways even though we knew it would require us to move to California, so I dropped Ender off at the pet sitter and zipped up my bag and headed to the airport. I left the muggy and buggy familiarity of summer in the South for the chilly, almost wet breeze of the Bay Area in August, and I breathed it in as Rob pulled up in the rental car, gave me a kiss, tossed my bags into the trunk, and took me to In-N-Out for a burger and fries.
We spent a couple of days in the South Bay looking at apartments and townhouses, eventually finding the place we currently call home. We walked down Castro Street in Downtown Mountain View and ate Thai food on a sidewalk patio, had coffee at Red Rock and walked across the street for huge omelets at Crepevine, trying to picture our lives in this new neighborhood. The weather was great and I was up early every morning from jet lag, and even through my anxiety of leaving everything I know, I could see it.
I miss the East Coast every day but that doesn't mean we aren't happy here. It's taken time and it's still a work in progress but we've pieced together a life for ourselves on the West Coast.
A few days later we ventured north to San Francisco and spent the rest of the week living out of a tiny hotel room in Union Square--Rob and I would walk to the Blue Bottle in SoMa for coffee before he hopped on a shuttle to his office every morning, and I'd grab breakfast to go somewhere and bring it back to the hotel where I'd get back in bed with avocado toast, a half-drunk cappuccino, and my laptop. My first cookbook was being released that week and there was something about being out of town for it that really made me feel like an author. I'd do some work, take a shower, and wander back out into the city to find some lunch, Purity Ring blasting into my earbuds as I walked down the sidewalk.
One afternoon I ran out of things to do so I called an Uber and rode to Baker Beach by myself. The driver dropped me off by the path to the shore and I took my shoes off, digging my feet into the cold sand with every step as I made my way down to the freezing water. The waves crashed roughly and soaked the bottom of my jeans but I just stood there, thinking about my hot and humid home in Charlotte with a jacket buttoned all the way up and a scarf wrapped tightly around my neck, the wind whipping my hair into a frenzy as I took in the Golden Gate Bridge ahead of me in all its majesty.
It wasn't home--it wasn't even familiar. But it was exciting.
Next weekend Rob and I will leave our sweaters behind as we head to the East Coast for 11 muggy days to see our family and friends at my baby shower and then his cousin's wedding the following weekend. In twelve months I've made new friends and missed my old ones more than I thought was possible, trained to be a fitness instructor (something I didn't know I had in me), gotten to know a new region of the country, written another book, created and began growing a human person, fallen even more in love with my sweet husband (seriously Rob I love you more every day), and have started looking--once again--for another place to live (I think I miss having a backyard more than Ender does).
The time has simultaneously flown and crept by.
I've said it before and I'll say it again--it's amazing what can happen in a year.