North or South
As I hosed the cobwebs from the rafter and the leaky hose dripped water down my arm, shirt, jeans and sandals, I felt remarkably comfortable. Solid. Stable. Warm. And at home. The rafter I hosed was in the barn where I’d spent the two decades of my childhood. The saddle rack where I cleaned my saddle for Pony Club Events dripped where I’d rinsed off the chicken poop from the top. The barn swing I remembered catching between my legs on leaps from the hay was tied over to the side. The bails like the ones we spent those sweltering nights collecting from the field rested out front where we’d pulled them out of the way of the water. The cobwebs may well have been the same as the ones that were there when I was a kid. I don’t remember the barn ever getting this thorough of a cleaning.
So despite my physical drenched state, I felt dry, warm, at home. Colin and Becky worked out in the sun emptying a porcelain bathtub long ago turned horse trough. We’d spent part of the sunny morning fixing fence. I’d brushed the horses with Katie. We completed solid, physical, tangible task.
The field shines a lovely light fresh green this time of year. The plum trees bloom in the lawn. The red oak that once was as tall as my mom towers over the arena fence. The old tractors sit in the remarkably clean path to the barn (a testament to Becky’s industry) in the sun where my dad left them with plans for restoration years ago--as it turned out not the only aborted restoration on the property.
Bear, the black lab my mom got when I was in medical school, sat on my feet and smiled backward up into my face when I scratched his ears. I thought of Sophie, my new puppy--a Yorkie-Shitzu cross--who weighs less than the cats on the farm. Despite my denials to the recent relentless teasing, she is a “So Cal” dog. I knew it. And I knew that parts of me had adapted to the Southern California life I, too, used to mock when I lived up north and begrudged the water “they” took and thought of them as prissy whining traffic-jam loving foreigners. There was something distant about that part of me, even as I sunk into it.
I thought, as I moved further back in the now dripping barn, of where I wanted to go next. I love San Diego. I love the ocean. I now even love my residency and appreciate the training I have been blessed enough to receive. I have friends down there. I have work contacts. I am known in the medical community. There is a job I have chased that will eventually become a reality--a job like one I always said I wanted. One treating the underinsured. It will take time to turn it into the job I envision, but the potential lies within.
I love it here, too. Spring is a beautiful time in Northern California. The seasons keep you focused and centered. I don’t miss the rain when I live here like I do down south. The closeness to the growth of so much of our world’s resources feels fundamental, actual, and real. The people are different, too. They are hardy and supportive--the kind of people who will stand beside a friend until the end, or stop along the side of the road to help strangers. They look familiar to me. At the spaghetti feed in Vina tonight, I recognized the now man who gave me bread. I went to school with him from the time I was a very small girl. I recognized another now woman who I knew from somewhere. I sat next to my brother and his wife whose family we’d spent every Fourth of July since I could remember. The mediocre food tasted better because I knew the proceeds went to the poor school where we ate.
I don’t know where I’m visiting anymore. I know where I find my past--wrapped up in this big old farm house with my brothers’ heights marked on the door frame, or that dusty saddle in the tack room, or the small jumper with my name embroidered on it I found in the shed. I know where to find my present, in the hospitals and clinics and beaches and bikes and patients of the warm sunny south just north of Mexico. I don’t know where I’m visiting. I don’t know where I’ll be a year from now. I don’t know where I want to be.
At every juncture like this, I have envisioned a partner to help guide my decision. I guess I should stop thinking like that. I’m perfectly capable of making these decisions on my own, despite how much I fret about them and tangle my worries into the plethora of crocheted hats I’ve been producing lately.
I supposed I’m waiting for an epiphany. I guess I should look a little harder.
I still have my Bhudda bracelet from Thailand around my wrist. Bryce’s fell off and Becky’s broke, both in the last month. Mine remains strong because I don’t wear on it much. I don’t work as physically hard a Becky nor do I take it off when I need to pitch like Bryce. I just read and do yoga and run (recently again at last!) and go to the office or clinic where the work is in my head and my callous-less hands. That’s the practical explanation at least.
It’s also, I think, because I still need it. This tattered piece of string around my wrist is a symbol of a blessing from a monk in a language we didn’t understand. The best we could gather is that it is for good luck. Fortune. Maybe for epiphanies?
Yesterday, I yelled at my Bhudda bracelet about the things I wanted it most to find for me. I’ll give it time. I’ll even help it out if I can.
When I moved so often during my lifetime of education, I learned to take my home with me--inside of me. It became physically lighter and lighter to carry around as I shed items that no longer mattered. My home is with me. My home is me. I just need to figure out a new place for my home to live.