Tuesday, May 24, 2016

If

For the last several days, Sam has been in San Diego for a work conference/series of seminars. When he knew he was heading that way earlier in the year, I had said it would be nice if I could tag along. It's been a long time since I've been "home," and since all we'd have to cover is the flight for me, it seemed reasonable. Circumstances didn't quite allow for that this time; however, Sam's been sending photos home, just to make me jealous. It's definitely worked. I believe his exact quote was, "If you were here, you'd be plotting how we could make the move."
It's likely not a false statement. Despite residing several hours to the north of this area for the first 20-something years of life, I had several encounters that were all fantastic in SD. In my teens, I was traveling to Mexico to help out an orphanage for a few weeks and stayed in San Diego for some of that trip in a mission/church combination. Later, I had friends who went to San Diego State University, so I was able to absorb some additional time there in my early 20s, crashing in dorm rooms when I'd arrive suddenly, without warning (as was often how my trips went at that point in life). Later, I had another friend who worked for one of the news stations in San Diego, so I was able to frequent the area again. At that point, I slept on a couch, rather than on the floor like I had during my college time visits. It definitely felt like a step up in the world.
More than once, I have said that I don't think I could live in a large city again at this point in life. I lived in Los Angeles in my early to mid 20s and I loved it. It was a rough time for me, but there was something about the vibrancy of city life that kept me going and I loved having so many things at my fingertips. As I've gotten older and settled back into the size of city I lived in as a child and teenager, I find that I appreciate the energy of a smaller city as well. I enjoy having a large city close enough that I can still do the things that a city allows, but I think as life has settled down, my need for all the energy of city life has also taken a dip.
San Diego though, has never felt like a big city to me. I realize it is one of the largest in the country, but it doesn't feel that way in many respects. It's almost more of an area that has several smaller communities that come together to form what is referred to as a whole, larger city. There are all the conveniences of a city without feeling as though the world is invading my personal space... or at least this is how my brain chooses to idealize it.
When I see the photos of the beach, I can smell it - something that I miss being landlocked in our current state of residence. When I see the buildings or even the palm, I have memories of what it was like to walk down beach streets. Sometimes I have very specific memories that bring back fond moments in time. Of course, I also remember being able to wear shorts and t-shirts year round, and I have to say as we have just finally come out of winter locally, that consistently nice weather is something I definitely took for granted in my youth.
On some level though, I am aware that I am idealizing much of my time in the area, but it's easy to fall in love when I see photos that bring back specific, happy times.

Something entirely beneficial has been gained by living in our current location though (well, many things really, but one in particular for purposes here). In southern California - at least two decades ago (this may have changed since that time) - it would not have even occurred to me to attempt to ride a bicycle for transportation, or for sport for that matter. Seeing the mass of motorized traffic and having witnessed people on bikes being hit by cars and buses, I can't say riding a bike was at the forefront of my mind.
If we had never moved to Colorado, we likely would have owned bicycles and ridden them occasionally, but Sam would have driven to the mountains to bike with a friend (or on his own), and I would probably occasionally meander around the neighborhood, fearing actually going anywhere of significance. It's interesting that it's not necessarily the amount of motorized traffic that changed things, but something within us came out being here that I can say with almost absolute certainty would not have been the case in California. Maybe today that would be different, but it's difficult to know these things without having lived the scenarios out for ourselves.

I have no way of knowing what the future holds. We don't have any plans to move to San Diego or to move at all, but I do understand that bicycles are a part of life now and it's difficult to imagine them disappearing at any point down the road. I know no matter where we live our lives, subtracting bicycles from our lives is simply not an option. While I may crave the smell of beach and have moments of longing for year-round (relative) warmth, I am so grateful for our move to Colorado. It's made us better people on so many levels and brought bicycles to the forefront of our minds and lives.

4 comments:

  1. This is a fascinating post for me because I've done a lot of "if" thinking about my current location. I never in a million years would have expected to land in Memphis TN. Yet this is where my cycling really blossomed, and I am now at a point where I cannot imagine a life where riding -- especially riding for transportation -- is not a major feature. I've almost always been a rider, but it was always simply a fun thing to do on weekends, and I felt no loss if I went a week or two without being able to ride. Now, though, even a couple days off the bike feels weird.

    We never expected to move here, never expected to stay here, but here we are. And there is something about this place that enabled my transformation as a rider. I'll always be grateful to Memphis for that even if eventually the winds should blow us elsewhere. I'm pretty sure they won't blow us somewhere where riding isn't feasible though!

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    1. It's interesting the twists and turns life takes, isn't it? Tennessee is a beautiful state (at least the portions of it that I've had the opportunity to see), so I can imagine it would be a lovely place to live, even if it wasn't an intended spot to stick.

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    2. Some days, I just want to go "home", but it's becoming difficult to know where that is anymore. Life twists you in terrible ways, conforms, changes you. You become less "free", even if it seems like you have more. Maybe it's just a midlife crisis talking.. : ).

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    3. No mid-life crises.

      It is difficult to know where home is anymore. Colorado is home because it's been a lot of years here, but there's always that pull back to California and I don't know if it's family, some idealized memory, or something else entirely. I wish I had guidance sometimes to know what I'm supposed to do, but I suppose that is what this life is for -- figuring it out for ourselves.

      I think we have the power to choose wherever and whatever we want, but it's just making the choice that can be challenging sometimes.

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