Before we moved to California, Rob and I made the drive down to Litchfield Beach in South Carolina to spend two Memorial Day weekends with my best friend Tina, her husband Michael, and a group of their friends--sometimes small, sometimes larger, but always so fun.
We've only done it twice, but every time spring and Daylight Savings rolls around I think about that little yellow house and the gorgeous screened-in patio where we'd all sit with margaritas and chips and queso dip and watermelon, playing cards and catching up and laughing for hours. Tina and I would always wake up early every morning and walk on the beach with cups of coffee, before heading back to the house to start breakfast while everyone else began to wake up.
Even when we're on vacation--whether in South Carolina or Sonoma--it's always the quiet moments with Tina that I treasure the most: walking through the grocery store together for bacon and eggs and kebab ingredients; going to barre together; making a pot of coffee in the morning before taking a walk. They remind me of what it might be like to live in the same place and not have to plan out our time together the way we have for so many years.
Tina and Michael came to visit us in California right after we moved in 2016, and again just a few weeks ago to meet Sophie. Once again there were those everyday things--getting Thai takeout on a Thursday night and a couple of gel manicures on a Saturday morning. It always simultaneously makes me feel happy and sad--thankful for my friendships that have withstood time and distance, and bittersweet nostalgia coupled with dreams of a life all in one city--where you live close enough to each other that they can stop in for coffee on a Sunday morning, or any other made-up scenario that I catch myself daydreaming about when California feels especially far from Richmond or Charlotte. My friend Corri and I used to never actually make plans on Sundays but somehow always end up in my backyard with our dogs and a bottle of wine. I miss that.
I was test driving a car yesterday and mentioned that we were from Virginia but had moved from North Carolina, and further down the road when he brought up front-wheel vs. four-wheel drive, I found myself talking about Minnesota. The salesman looked at me with surprise as he said "You sure have lived a lot of places!" It reminded me that so much of my life so far has been framed by a narrative that's fragmented into here and there and back then and one day. I've always had trouble standing still--focusing on being content with the present and not looking back longingly or charging forward aggressively.
But now there's Sophie, and for once, I savor every single moment. Whether it's a smile or a nap or a snuggle, she changes so much and so fast that I constantly catch myself saying "I can't wait until she...well I can wait, I'm just excited for her to" laugh or crawl or sleep through the night. I pulled back into the dealership where Rob was pushing our daughter around in the stroller and realized that my whole life was standing there on that sidewalk.
I still dream of being able to drive to see my mom on the weekend, or having a Sunday night takeout and Game of Thrones tradition with our friends back east, of going to Target with my friend Paige and our kids, story time at the library, snacks on her kitchen island as the babies play.
But for now, where we are is just right.