Friday, April 30, 2010

New Chapter, New Vistas: Tuolumne County

As with so many things in Tuolumne County, spring arrives in its own leisurely fashion. It’s the end of April, and it’s a frosty 32 degrees outside. Though the scene out my new front window belies the cold—purple wisteria climbs boldly up the telephone pole across the street, stately evergreens reach for the sun, giant oaks are decked out in their full green splendor, and between branches and leaves, shine small patches of beautiful blue sky. Yesterday, just ten miles up the highway, it was, according to locals, seriously “blizzarding.” This morning, a heavy throw, a warm cup of ginger tea, and a nice fire in my gas insert keep me warm and toasty.

Tuolumne County. My new home. Gateway to the Sierras and Yosemite. Rich in gold mining history and the formation of the state. Small towns, a slower pace, beautiful scenery, clean mountain air, and some of the nicest people I’ve ever come across.

Each time I look up and take in this gorgeous and oh so peaceful vista I am stunned. Just two short months ago, I was still fully submerged in the excruciating unknown; the challenging, occasionally exciting, often anxiety and fear-ridden search for where my life was going to take me, where I might actually land. The mind went ‘round and ‘round: Stay in the Bay Area, don’t stay. Stay, don’t stay. Stay, don’t stay… (he loves me, he loves me not...?) with compelling reasons on each side. One moment Yes! do it, the next curled up in a fetal ball at the very idea of moving away from “home.”


Yet here I sit. Two and a half hours away and 2,000 feet higher. In my own spacious, mid-century, character-ridden home, with enough potential garden space to make me positively (once the weeds are cleared, that is) delirious. Where oak-studded hills have replaced the bay view; giant evergreens the SF skyline; personal interactions the impersonal; nature, calm and quiet the noise, rush, and concrete of the city.

It has been an interesting and enlightening process. Getting in the car, driving north, south, and east. Visiting different areas, towns, places. Noticing not just the landscape and neighborhoods and houses, but more important, how I was feeling on the drive, how I felt once there, and then again on the drive back home. Was I full of energy or lethargic and depressive? The next day or week, was there an interest in returning? Did I in fact return? Looking for enough clues to solve a puzzle far beyond the mind's ability; believing with at least a few morsels of my being that there was/is a place I am somehow supposed to be.

Is Tuolumne County that place? I truly do not know. I only know that it is the place I loved driving to the most, especially once I hit the foothills, with the velvety green, the sculptured oaks, the tiny meandering creeks, cattle grazing peacefully, and best of all, the snow-covered peaks that grew closer and closer the longer I drove. It's the place I returned to again and again, the place that made me feel excited, adventurous, and like anything might be possible. And on one of the trips, the house appeared (along with the adorable, sweet, already-good-friend realtor), and I said yes, and it all went smoothly, and at the same time that it felt crazy, it felt incredibly mysteriously right, and did I mention crazy? and here I am. Away from “home,” from my youngest daughter who remains in the city, my ex, my sister, my friends, my shrink, my women’s group, you name it, away from everything I’ve known my whole life. Yet...

Here. I. Am.

Right now that’s all I know. Except that, even in the chill of spring, the most beautiful things are blooming… irises, wisteria, azalea, luscious dogwood, and on and on...

...and all I can really hope, truly, is that I will somehow, through some sort of grace, bloom along with them.

From the heart of Gold Country... until next time.

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