Monday, October 20, 2008

Home Means Nevada, Part 1

It's funny how your sense of "home" changes throughout your life. I turned 6 the summer we moved to Quincy, and I will always consider it my hometown. But I remember a time when I was 18 and had lived in Monterey for about six months and was driving back from a visit to Quincy. The highway curved before me and I saw the ocean ahead and this feeling came over me that I can't quite explain. It was the first time since I'd lived there that I really felt like I was coming home.

I lived in Monterey for five years, then San Jose for two. When I graduated from San Jose State, I left for a three-month internship in Wenatchee, Wash. (the buckle of the power belt of the great northwest, if I recall the newspaper's masthead correctly.) I left Wenatchee on an undetermined course. My grandpa was sick, and my immediate plan was to drive to Oakland to see my sister for a few days and then to San Diego to see him. As I came into the East Bay and around another curve that put the ocean straight ahead of me, that wave of feeling came over me again and my eyes became teary. Those three months had been hard, in large part because of the uncertainty that came at the end of them. Being back in the Bay Area, with my sister, I felt a feeling of home and comfort.

I wasn't there long. The morning after I arrived, my phone rang at 6 a.m. My grandpa had taken a turn for the worse. I left as soon as I could, hoping for a chance to say goodbye. I didn't get there in time. The next few days I was busy helping my family in any way I could and visiting with relatives and friends. But when the funeral was over and everyone went back home, it hit me: I had no idea where I would go or what I would do, and I missed my grandparents so much. One of my uncles offered me a job until I found one with a newspaper, and said I could stay in my grandparents' house as long as I needed to. I wasn't there much more than a month, but my time there was just what I needed, to spend time with my thoughts and my family, visit the cemetery and carry on my grandpa's routine of spending Saturday mornings at the training track and going out to his favorite breakfast spot. I felt very much at home there.

I accepted the job offer from Yuma over the phone. I'd never been there. I'd never even heard of it before I sent in my clips. But at that point, I was willing to go just about anywhere that offered me a job as a reporter. One of the benefits was that it was close enough to drive to L.A. or San Diego to see my family on the weekends. I had a great time in Yuma. Though I don't remember ever being hit with the feeling of home as I had in other places, it was the right place for me at the time. I made wonderful friends and I miss it now occasionally.

About three months after Chris and I started dating, he joined me in L.A. for my birthday weekend. We went to a Dodgers-Giants game with my Dad and Debbie, had a night out with my college friend Becky and her friends, breakfast with Jennifer and Jim. It was a great weekend, and by the time we got back to Yuma, and I got out of my car and it was hot and smelly (you really only noticed the stink when you left and came back) I was suddenly homesick - homesick for a place I hadn't lived since I was too young to remember.

Chris and I were together more than a year when he showed me a picture of a condo project that was being developed. He was thinking of buying one, and asked if I would live with him. I thought my heart would jump out of my chest. We began looking around at other houses. And then he was offered a job in Flagstaff. I was happy for him, but I was devastated too. I wondered how we could make it work living more than four hours away from each other. I cried a lot in those weeks before he moved. And then I got a job offer outside of Phoenix, at a bigger paper, and two hours closer to Chris. The moves were good for both of us career-wise. We saw each other as much as possible in the year that followed, taking turns visiting on the weekends. It strengthened our relationship, and it was a great opportunity for me to better get to know Chris' friends and family. But it was hard on us, too. We kept an eye out for opportunities that would allow us to live in the same city, and we had some disappointments. But I always believe that everything happens for a reason, and I know now the way things happened was the way they were meant to. Chris had already bought a ring when he was offered a job in Reno. I had already decided if he was offered the job, I would move with him. He accepted the job on a Friday. Two days later, he proposed. And the rest, as they say, is history.

We are glad we made the move to the Biggest Little City. We like our jobs and have made some friends. We've experienced all of the seasons. We're closer to my Mom. We enjoy taking weekend trips to the Bay Area. But we are sometimes both homesick for Arizona ... and me for Southern California.

We don't know where the journey will take us next, but I'm glad that it is now our journey - instead of mine. Though I think it was always our journey, leading us to each other. And I know now where home really is - anywhere that Chris is.


Melynda Hache' said...

Seriously, make me cry already. Arizona misses you guys! We can't wait to see you next weekend. :)

Marina said...

Wasn't it you who commented on my blog in Beirut: "Home is where the heart is?" Thought so. Love you!

Laura said...

Your story gives me hope for Ernesto and I. Hopefully we end up just as happy as you two are.