California Decompression

IMG_4155I’ve been living in a kind of mental–and emotional–knot. Each day of summer I worked hard, taking small steps, then big steps, to disentangle myself from thirteen years in Vermont. And I did it. It took extreme mental and physical focus. I cried most days. But I filled trash bags, recycling tubs, storage units and suitcases–and left.

I decided to take time to decompress in California before settling down for a 3-year PhD program overseas. So here I am, decompressing. But I wonder what I had in mind when I decided to carve out a transition time between one phase of life and the next. What did I anticipate? How did I think it would serve me?

I ask these things because I feel like I am living in a bit of a void here in California–not fully able to connect with my surroundings. I am one step removed from a desired integration process, as though I’m hovering just outside a new reality. Is it exhaustion? Jet-lag? Overwhelm? Am I experiencing heartbreak as the surge of separation from those I love in Vermont intensifies? Or am I in a state of no-thought meditation, preparing myself in stillness for what is to come?

I really don’t know. I don’t seem to have my normal mental acuity right now. I’m just kind of floating.

But I can tell you that the sun is shining and the air is dry. I can tell you that my openness is met with other people’s openness and there is an ease to each day. People are smiling.

I can see the canyons clearly and the moon is full. I smell jasmine on my morning walks with Beesly. Tiny geckos scurry along the trail. Giant aloe plants mark our path. The days are slow. I am on the exterior of one life and not yet inside another–an outsider to two worlds now, floating in Southern California. I see a surf shop, a skateboard park, a juice bar.

Tomorrow I will go to my favorite town in these parts. I will walk my dog on the beach and try to surrender to decompression in a way I couldn’t anticipate. After all, “decompress” is not something you can check off on your list of things to do. It’s more alchemical than that. It’s something I have to allow to happen in its own way.

Movement is happening, things have been set in motion. I loosened the knots until they fell away and allowed me to go. But it took every ounce of strength I had. So tomorrow I will eat a ripe mango, breathe the warm air and stand with my feet in the Pacific Ocean.

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