Dispatch from Northern California

Well, here we are.

After almost two weeks of hotel living and several days of utter unpacking chaos, here we are in our little (and I mean little) rented house in the golden state.

Here I am, sitting in the near-dark with the windows open, listening to the crickets chirp, watching out the window for the moon, knowing not where to begin.

I believe my first txt msg that went from California to South-of-the-River said: "Freakishly large geraniums."

It's true. They're like shrubs.

And I really don't know where to begin -- everything is so new and different, I'm just taking it all in. What I can tell you is this:

~Yes, it's true what they say about the weather. It really is lovely. In the midwest, we'd call it "good sleeping weather" -- you know, warm days then cool nights perfect for sleeping with the windows open. In a stunning departure from expected midwestern behavior, I have stopped checking the weather forecast every morning. Every day is the same: overcast morning, clouds giving way to bright sun and blue sky by 10 a.m., temps 70-75, steady light breezes, nights cool enough for fleeces, no rain. The midwesterner in me keeps looking over her shoulder, like it really can't last.

~Yes, it's true what they say about the produce. Also very lovely. Delicious, fresh, and cheap. Still not quite reaching the perfection of the Michigan sweet cherry, and yet the avocados nearly make up for it. I have already found my favorite produce market and it has become my second home. When I first entered, I had to pause for a moment of awestruck silence to say to my fellow shoppers: The produce snob in me (insert solemn bow here) greets the produce snob in you.

~California driving requires lots of u-turns. I have not, uh, mastered the u-turn. It's not pretty. Instead of embarrassing myself, I've figured out how to go about a half-mile out of my way on any given errand to avoid having to attempt a u-turn.

~California requires lots of documentation. So far, my dossier is not complete enough to get a library card, or to sign the kids up for little league. Note to self: must get one utility in my name.

~We have people here! We have relished spending time with my brother and his family, my uncle and his family, and an old college friend of mine and her family. It makes a huge difference to have these ready-made circles of love and laughter as we settle into our new home.

~The kids are happy. Our street is quiet and they are forever on their bikes. There's a lovely playground right around the corner. See above re: weather. They are brown as berries, and every night they come in with absolutely filthy feet. Every mother knows that absolutely filthy feet are an indication that all is well in the world.

~My desk is here somewhere. I know it's true because I saw it come in. Husband promises it's in the corner by the window with a view of the lovely fuchsia-flowering tree whose name I don't know. My own view of the alleged desk is obstructed by boxes that, alas, are too heavy for me to move. But never fear, my bookshelves are confirmed to be present and are slowly filling with all my best, dust-jacketed compadres.

~Speaking of compadres, I'm missing mine. Leaving my circle of friends in South-of-the-River was, of course, gut-wrenching. It involved lots of tears and hugs and the shocked silence of at least one casual observer as one dear friend and I wept into each others bosoms outside my house. Which isn't my house anymore. Leaving the house wasn't easy, either. I feel strangely untethered, a bit suspended between the ending of one chapter of life and the beginning of another. Dear compadres, nota bene: "I miss you" doesn't begin to say it.

Thank you to everyone who has sent, or even thought, good wishes and words of support. It makes all the difference to know that the people we love are wishing us well. And thank you, as always, for reading even as I haven't been writing much. I hope to be back here more regularly very soon.


CitricSugar said...

Glad to hear you've landed and seem to be adjusting well! I laughed out loud at your produce snob. There must be a word for that greeting... vegeste? yamaste? banamaste? Thanks for the update.

Sandy Longhorn said...

Lovely post. I'm envious of the weather, as we set a record at 114 (before heat index) two days ago. Fleece...wow!

Your new home sounds lovely, filthy feet and all!

drew said...

Oh! I am so happy to see you here again. Been thinking of you, sending goodness your way. :)

Gerry said...

This. Just. Made. Me. Happy.

The desk is doing fine. The paperpiles are probably procreating. I'll bet the flowers are bougainvillea. Or something else. California is so exotic. I am positive it is really another country, or perhaps an alternate reality altogether.

Europeans accuse us of provincialism--which is fair--but they do not understand that we encompass an entire continent of differences in our quarrelsome self. We are a nation of expats. But Thomas Wolfe was wrong, and Robert Frost was right, and your lucky children will be entirely at home wherever they are planted, dirty feet and all. And they have a blue, blue lake that will wait for them as long as it takes.

Minga said...

Glad you are back!! You are the Molly I have known forever!

Shaun said...

Thank you for the update. I loved your words about dirty feet -- my 8yo and a neighbor are sitting on my den sofa with *disgusting* feet right now.

It sounds really beautiful, and I also loved hearing about your close-by family.

Molly said...

Hi everyone, and thanks for reading!

Gerry, I have wondered what bougainvillea looks like ever since I read Alice Adams' stories 100 years ago (ok, 20 years ago). Maybe now I know. (OMG, I could GOOGLE it. Sometimes I forget about The Google). We are missing that blue, blue lake something fierce.

Sandy, and others in the heatwave part of the country -- I keep wishing the cool breezes your way. We had a taste of that heatwave the week before we moved.

Shaun, I want to be like you. The neighborhood's introduction to me has been my voice screaming: NO! NO! DON'T PUT YOUR FILTHY FEET ON MY CLEAN BEDSPREAD! (In my defense, it actually is clean for the first time in years).

CitricSugar, I'm laughing. I think yamaste has it.

Drew, thanks for the goodness, I've been feeling it :).

Minga, thanks for everything, everything, everything, and the nudge I needed. XO.