|Everything's a trade-off. Lovely new bedroom under construction = decimated lawn and yard.|
This afternoon I sat on the couch, looking out the window of our living room, watching the stillness of our yard, thinking how peaceful everything seemed. There was no sound except the hum of our wine fridge. With eye closed and ears open, one would never guess that there's still chaos and mess strewn from one edge of the property to another.
I hit my two-year anniversary of living here sometime last week (Mr. W is about 8 months behind me), and I have to say it still feels strange to call this place home. In fact, I still regularly refer to LA as "home." Considering that I lived mostly in the same 25-mile radius for the first 37 years of my life, this home adoption lag seems pretty natural. But I do wonder when the Santa Ynez Valley will really, truly feel like my own. I wonder if I'll ever really, truly feel like we fit in here.
Compared to when we lived LA, it sometimes feels like we're the misfits in town. We're the liberals among the conservatives. The childless among the families. The Prius owners among the SUVs. It's nearly impossible to be a misfit in LA. Especially if you grew up there and still have an army of friends who accepted you years ago for the wackadoodle you are. It's funny how normal it can make a person feel to spend time with pals who carry healing crystals in their pockets and take their dogs to acupuncture. I miss that.
We moved here on a mission to create our dream life—and I think we're trying very hard to do it—but it's equally hard not to miss the old way of living.
That's not to say we don't have plenty of moments and days where I feel like "This is IT! We're finally living the dream!" But those usually end up making me think about when I learned to water-ski. I was so determined behind my brother's boat, hanging onto the tow bar for dear life, fighting to get my balance, finally standing—and just when I'd start to think I had it, I'd inevitably hit a bump and fall back into the water.
The past two years have certainly left me feeling emotionally water-logged.
But I'm not sure that big changes and big challenges ever go any other way. I think trying to raise this house and this life is a lot like trying to raise a kid. Those first couple of years are hell, right? Sleepless, delirious nights, "tools" and mess everywhere, a million decisions that will impact the future.
I'd even compare my lamentations about how hard this process has been to those of a new parent. When I complain, I certainly don't want anyone to respond with, "Well why'd you move there, then?" —just like a new parent wouldn't want me to say "Well why'd you have the baby?"
Deep down both I and the new parents know that ultimately the pains of the first few years—or maybe every year—will pay off when you get to sit back and enjoy the amazing thing you created. I think with each passing year, the moments of proud admiration grow a little longer until finally they far outweigh the moments of struggle and worry and wondering what you were thinking signing up for such a big responsibility.
So, I guess, happy 2nd birthday to our baby. She's a disaster a lot of the time, but I think she's going to turn out to be something really lovely. And the new life and surroundings that came with her are sure to feel homier and homier as time passes. And hopefully when she finally grows up, she'll take very good care of us.
At least she better after the blood, sweat and tears we've invested in her.