We are going on our third year here in Santa Monica. Culture shock after living in Ashland for over thirty years! We did know this. I grew up not far from here, Lakewood, and Tim grew up in the Bay area. But things have changed. That is actually quite the understatement. It’s a different world now…yes, that’s better.
When Tim decided to take this amazing job offer, we were both very excited. A change of pace, a change of scenery, me proudly boasting ‘I can live anywhere for a reasonable amount of time – it will be an adventure!’ Yes, it is. The first year in the Marina, I believe, looking back, I was basically in shock. While I loved living so close to the water and seeing all kinds of marine wildlife on my daily walks, I had a hard time with the close proximity of so many human beings. I had a hard time with getting out into the traffic just to go to the grocery store and having to navigate a new roads and then the ‘search and seize’ of a parking spot once I arrived.
After a year of Tim biking to work (to avoid the traffic) and feeling a bit claustrophobic inside the apartment inside the big building inside the big complex, (a box in a box in a box) we decided to move again; this time closer to his office in Santa Monica. My diligent daily rental search paid off. We were lucky and found this two story condo in a row of only five units, six blocks from the beach! And by Santa Monica standards – affordable! Tim walks to work now and I walk along the beach every day. It keeps me sane, I know. I look out over the vastness of the Pacific Ocean and block out the metropolis behind me. I am practicing mindfulness and gratitude. I focus on the moment I am in and all of the blessings that I have in my life. I try to breathe out the pain, the grief, the worry that plague me in the dark moments.
Recently I have decided that in my attempt to survive in this unfamiliar world and operate on auto pilot until we make another change, I have been strongly resisting the urge to put down any kind of roots. I hesitate to make the condo ‘too homey’ because ‘it’s temporary’; I was hesitant to reach out to make new friends because ‘it’s temporary’; hesitant to get involved with anything because ‘it’s temporary’. It IS temporary. But I see now, that I need to allow some shallow roots to grow. They don’t have to anchor me permanently to this place; I just need them to ground me a little.
And so, I have joined a book group with some wonderful women who are becoming my friends. I am ‘cozying up’ our condo because it IS our home. I am exploring more options for getting involved in something meaningful because it will feel good to do good. I am beginning to see that although the roots may be shallow, they are strong enough for now.