After almost twelve years, I returned to California. San Diego is home to family, old friends, sunshine, fish tacos and endless miles of azure beaches and rocky cliffs (as well as the truly awful Ugg boots + leggings phenomena). When I stepped off my return flight from Paris in November, all I felt was relief. I was finally in a city that I knew well and in close proximity to so many that I hold dear.
What I have learned in these past few weeks is that there is no ‘going back’. San Diego is a city (for me) whose broad strokes feel familiar, but small details remain elusive. Twelve years is a long time to be away. It has all proved a bit more overwhelming than I had originally anticipated. This was when the friends and family stepped in – having a network of people ready to help me find my way proved invaluable in getting me established and finding my new place (and car) here.
It turns out that in that decade, I have also done my fair share of growing and changing. I want different things out of my cities now than I did when I was last living here as a college student. Today, I am looking for the perfect place to take sunset beach photos, finding picnic spots and fantastic happy hour specials, getting to know the vendors at my local farmers market, and – most importantly – to find and then devour the best taco around. Everyone has to have goals and dreams, right?
I am also looking forward to being close to my family – and enjoying being an aunt to my new nieces and nephew. They (the family, not the babies – yet) are already learning to be patient with me – it has been a long time since I have changed diapers and sung lullabies (let alone getting up early for babysitting gigs), but I have no doubt that the smiles, giggles and drool are worth it.
I am no longer looking around, assuming I know everything there is to visit, explore or taste. Although I am ‘returning’, moving to San Diego has been much more like starting over than coming home than I ever thought it would be. The major exception to this is with all the exploring I am looking forward to doing – now I will get to drag my friends and family along with me for the ride!