It took us years to work up the courage to finally move away from Southern California. I felt like such a cliche', the person I had grown up resenting, the "Californian" that flees to another state and ends up ruining their new home, driving up the cost of living, paying too much for rent, or a mortgage. I grew up in Montana, a place that prides itself on being the last best place, the only place left that hasn't been ruined by developers, until it was, and now it is just like everywhere else. Growing up it wasn't strange to see old Ford truck with a bumper sticker reading "Welcome to Montana, now go home" or "keep Missoula weird" on it.
This is the story I grew up with; a place is good, has everything its residents need, people are happy. Then, like locusts, Californians come in and destroy it. You could say that I felt conflicted as a Californian. I was. In fact I always held deep inside of my heart, a tiny sparkling gem, a reminder, that I wasn't "one of them."
The people I befriended in San Diego are so dear to me, but I was always guarded, held people at arms' length. I knew that someday, I would be leaving them. Now, people are really only a mouse click away and I keep all my long lost friends in my pocket and can look at their highlight reel any time, day or night, but still. That is so strange, when I think about it, I'm old enough to remember the world before 9/11, cell phones, and facebook and I'm okay with that.
Before we finally made the decision to really leave, we searched desperately for a better living situation in San Diego. When I tell people how much rent we paid to live in our tiny studio apartment, they usually shake their heads, it's embarrassing. We would hear about people we knew moving and would try to get on their landlord's waiting list, we contacted rental companies, we tried everything we could think of. We were stuck, everything we found was either too expensive, or wouldn't take our dogs, or was just too far away. I would post our search on Facebook, hoping someone may have a lead, but no. At one point, an acquaintance (who I am convinced just really never liked me that much and was gunning for me to leave) sent me a link to some really affordable rental listings, of course, they were in El Centro, which if you have any access to a map is over two hours east of San Diego. El Centro? Its a real shit-hole that literally smells like death and decay. That was it, the straw that broke the camel's back. We stopped looking to stay and started planning to leave.
A few months later we left. It was hard; emotionally, the actual act of packing everything after living in a place for so long, the driving for a week with two dogs and a baby, the uncertainty of starting over, everything was hard. Some days, it still is.
I miss San Diego a little, I was never in love with it so I don't feel really sad that I left it. Really, I miss my friends there.
On our way from one far corner of the United States to the other, we took a lot of pictures.
So here they are, some are not really my best photography work, but they are a record of this huge leap that we took as a family.
Lastly, a goodbye, to one of our oldest friends. My husband's dog Beezle had to be put down a few weeks ago. She was beautiful, she made everyone happy, and she loved us beyond the limits that human love could ever extend and our brains can comprehend. After years of apartment and city living, I had one dream for my dogs, and that was to give them a big yard to run in before they died. So, even though it wasn't very long, Beez got to have a home with a yard, and see where we ended up. We miss her.