In just a couple of days, I will be leaving California back to my hometown of New Orleans.
I wanted to take a moment to write a letter to California…a goodbye letter of sorts.
About 9 years ago, I met my husband. Well, of course he wasn’t my husband then. He was a guy that I had known for some time and eventually we ended up doing the whole dating thing. You know how it goes.
We dated for around 2 months when suddenly I was told that he was being stationed in California. Great. Wonderful. I start dating this amazing man, all so that he can tell me that he has to leave. And you have to know that a long distance relationship was never in the cards for me. I tried it once, and of course…it failed miserably. What’s the point?!?! If you love someone, if you want to be with that person, be with them! There shouldn’t be miles in between!
But at the time I was 24 years old. I was still living at home, working the same dead-end job, hanging out at the same bars on the weekends. At this point, I had been diagnosed with the liver disease 3 years prior and my health had just become stable. I had nothing going on so I thought…why not? Why not move to California? What would be holding me back except maybe my family and friends. Okay, that was a major thing actually, considering my family and friends were essential to me. I mean, they defined who I was, which was a person who held them dear to my heart.
Nevertheless, I decided to go. and I called him to give him the news.
I will never forget what his response was – “Are you serious, because I nearly just fell out of my chair!”
Was this a good or bad thing, I thought. Does he want me to go with him or not?
It turned out that he did, and so the preparation had begun. I left work, got my medical things in order, had a going away party, and we packed up the U-Haul.
A million thoughts were going through my head at the very moment we were about to drive off – What the hell am I doing? How am I going to live with a guy I had only started dating for a few months in a place I had never been to? What if I can’t handle being away? What if something happens to me? What if my illness gets worse? What if I need my mom?
We hugged my parents and my beloved sister goodbye, the one person that I felt most guilty about leaving because she was in her teens and I was choosing to live so far from her at such a crucial time in her life.
I can remember like it was yesterday driving down that street and watching them wave goodbye in the rearview mirror. This was it…I was leaving. I was embarking on this scary, amazing journey. I bit the bullet. I took that leap of faith.
I had never been west of Austin, Texas in my life. Once we made it to the California, and even before when we got past Austin, Texas, I was in awe. The mountains, the clear blue skies, the faster speed limit… It was all oohhs and ahhs for most of the first year.
In that year, I went to Hollywood, walked down the boulevard of stars that I had always dreamed of. I went to the beaches off the Pacific coast, something I had only seen in the movies. I was living on my own and with a man, one of the biggest steps I had taken in a long while. I started college, a priority that I always knew I had to set eventually but had just kept on the backburner.
I got married! Yes! The boyfriend and I decided to get hitched! But it wasn’t just for the insane love that we felt for one another…he was being deployed and wanted to make sure that I was going to be okay without him for almost a year.
The plan was for him to come back from his tour of duty and for us to move back home not long after, but it turned out that he needed to stay longer…
…and here I am, 6 years later.
California and I have a love/hate relationship. If it wasn’t for California, I may not have graduated college with a bachelor’s degree in Healthcare Management and a certificate in Medical Transcription. I may not have learned to live with my disease on my own, having to go to doctor’s appointments alone. I may not have ever gone to Las Vegas. I probably would not have been able to have Sylvester Stallone sign one of my favorite movies of all time. I might not have been able write my 2 books, and I certainly would not have been able to feel the love and affection from my beautiful pooches Lucy, Cassie, and Bella.
But most importantly, I might not have married my soulmate (so cheesy, I know).
On the other hand, if it wasn’t for California I may not have missed so many birthdays and family events at home. I might have been able to be there when my friends were getting married or having babies. I could have spent lots more time with my dad and been there for times when my sister needed me. Maybe I wouldn’t even have anxiety.
As I write this, I am realizing that California has done more good for me than bad. Although I may be ready to be home with my family and friends and back to where pieces of my heart have been left, it’s still bittersweet.
California has brought out so much in me that I didn’t even know was there. It has taught me independence and patience. It has lead me to self-discovery and a creativity that has been living inside me for all my life.
But most importantly, California has helped me to realize what is most important in life…and all the things I once took for granted.
And with that I say Thank you and Goodbye, California. It will probably be a long time before I make it back out your way, but this isn’t goodbye forever.