During the month of May, I was in California. This was the third time I’ve returned home after a long period of absence. I no longer seem to experience much reverse culture-shock, I just settle right in, easily and comfortably. As much as I love being with Erik, I also loved having those three weeks all to myself, to spend time in my family home like I used to, as a child and as a pre-married adult. Instead of feeling out of place and confused about my identity like I have in the past, this return felt secure, familiar, and calm.
One thing that will stick with me is loosing our dog Oliver. We had already lost our other dog, Molly, about a year earlier, but loosing Oliver felt bigger – probably because now the house was completely dog-less. No more click-clacks of the paws on the wood floors, no more irritating barking in the back yard, no more silly antics of a tiny, fluffy dog to laugh at. It was so hard to be sitting next to him one moment, and the next, know you’ll never see his dorky little face again. I don’t envy my mother, who bravely made that horrible trip to the vet alone – I admire her strength.
Loosing Oliver happened literally the day before I had to leave. Needless to say, the last thing on my mind was packing my suitcase. Instead, we got our nails done, walked to the coffee shop to play Go Fish and Sorry, and consumed lots of sugar. Walking seemed like the obvious choice even though few people do in our town… some kind of physical exertion or tiny bit of physical work felt needed. For some reason, I couldn’t bear to take a car to the coffee shop in that moment.
Earlier in my stay, we visited the Descanso gardens. It was a rare cloudy day, the sky was likely to burst at any moment – but it didn’t, so we remained dry. The weather conditions did make for some amazing diffused light and very picturesque dew drops on the flowers. I attempted to take graduation photos of my sister, Sam, but I’m not very good at portraiture. Flowers, however, I can do. (This has nothing to do with Sam’s modeling skills – she’s the bomb .com!)
All the roses were blooming, and we came across a weeping willow, the most romantic of trees. Willows make me feel happy, calm, and protected, but with a tinge of melancholy. There really is something poetically heavy about them.
These are my people – my mother, siblings, next-door-neighbor (basically other sister), and my best friend (also like a sister). There are also other people in my life that are mine, that I love so much that at rare times, I feel like crying. I won the lottery on life.
I treat this blog as a kind of diary, so i’m going to just mention random things that I remember from my trip, since I tend to forget almost everything as time passes. I want to remember the little stuff too.
I had no idea that Yard House has deviled eggs on its menu; They were damn delicious.
I miss American sushi, with all the toppings and sauces and frills. The lemon roll at my old sushi restaurant can never be topped.
Spending hours catching up with my friend Michelle was wonderful. I so miss our deeply honest conversations.
Running into my ex was inevitable. It was bound to happen eventually, and it did – twice. Yes, it was awkward, and yes I feel like I made a slight fool of myself. But who cares?!
I made my first wardrobe investment during this trip, in the form of a Madewell tote bag. Made of black and cognac leather, it’s literally the perfect bag for me. I’ll link it here.
The air smells different wherever you go. Paris smells like cigarettes and city and sometimes pee. The desert smells a little dusty. People’s houses have even more distinct scents – my unpacked clothes still smelled like my California home even after two weeks of being back in France. But maybe the scent will be slightly different now that we’re dog-less…
I came back from CA feeling more like myself. I noticed that I was more present and unashamed to walk around in public spaces. That fear of being noticed in a foreign country is almost gone. I still feel different and I still feel separate, but I don’t feel afraid anymore, like I used to.
That last paragraph was so poignant. I know I’ve said it already, but moving to the East Coast from the West Coast was jarring, foreign and unsettling. I am overjoyed now that we are here and have no desire to return, but you having the same experience in your adopted home is a relief to me. I am certain your adjustment is WAY more difficult as it’s not the US, and I appreciate your honesty with your prose. You are a trailblazer, Hannah!