A year ago we were driving through Kansas on our way to Denver.
I remember standing in front of a lake on the side of the highway in Colorado on the first day of fall, swallowed by mountains and feeling the first chills of autumn in a way that felt like we were somehow escaping the still-hot summer haze of North Carolina that we had left several days before. We walked Ender down a trail along the water, away from the interstate as cars zoomed by behind us, and as we stood at the edge of the lake I felt for the first time that we were really far away from home--wherever that is. But the air was cool and refreshing and I had my dog and my husband by my side and our life really was starting to feel like an adventure.
I'm so thankful for that road trip across the country, from Charlotte to Nashville to New Orleans and back up through Texas, then to Colorado and Salt Lake City and Lake Tahoe before we finally made it to the Bay Area a week later, tired but ready to start a life on the west coast.
And now here we are, having just moved all of our stuff from the South Bay to the East Bay and trying to figure out where our new Chinese takeout place will be, where I'll grocery shop; color-coding my bookshelf for the third time but now in the bright yellow bedroom that will be our daughter's nursery.
We packed the last of our stuff into the car on Saturday afternoon and drove away from the townhouse we called home for the past twelve months, marveling that we've been in California long enough to have a place we can now refer to as "our first place in California." We stopped by our favorite Chinese place in our old neighborhood for dinner on Thursday and we ate there instead of getting takeout, and the guy behind the counter was surprised by it. We do have rituals here, even if they're fewer and further between. I still think I'd rather be back on the East Coast, in Charlotte or maybe Richmond--regulars at our favorite coffee shops and just minutes away from old friends, but over the past few months I've found myself living in a place of contentment--happy to be where I am, open to the things that make California different from Virginia or North Carolina, and excited to start our family right here in just a couple months.
Sometimes I'll be on Facebook and come across an old classmate or friend who stayed in one city--they've worked for the same company since college and married someone who had already planted roots or maybe they bought a house and live close to their parents and they never had to make new friends or pack everything they own into a U-Haul. I have to admit that I'm often jealous of those people, but then I wake up in my house full of boxes and open the window over the sink as I boil water for coffee, and Rob and Ender are snuggled up in our bed and this baby is rolling around in my belly and even if I could imagine my life another way, I wouldn't.