A lifetime ago I packed up all my belongings, or those that could be stuffed into a camper-van, and left my childhood home. I left with the expressed purpose of starting a new timeline, one that I could refer to as my adulthood. It wasn't much of a negotiation, when it came right down to it. My girlfriend and incipient wife lived in California with all the antiques. I was living in an apartment filled with rental furniture and no real sense of where I was going. I was installing modular office furniture and wandering over the same ruts that I had for thirty years. I was going to trade in that rental furniture and tired ruts for some brand new ones. In California.
That was the big leap. Leaving Colorado, my birthplace. My heritage. My family. I was as grounded and comfortable as any middle son in his late twenties had a right to be. I had begun to figure out what my life might look like in twenty years, and my usually impressive imagination couldn't come up with much more than a bigger apartment. It took this woman from my past returning to offer me a future. In California.
But it was terrifying to imagine leaving. I had failed before. My initial shot at going away to college turned into returning home and living in the basement for a year, working at Arby's and creeping ever closer to the realization that nothing would change if I didn't do it myself. When I finally made the big leap, it was an hour and a half drive down the interstate that allowed me to be home to stay in touch with those ever-lovin' ruts. After a year of that, I bounced back to my hometown, where there was a perfectly good university just up the hill from where I went to high school. Meanwhile, there was life going on elsewhere, and my eventual bride ended up there. In California.
California isn't that big a stretch from Boulder, Colorado. Sure, there's an ocean. No, there isn't any snow, unless you drive way up into the hills and there isn't a drought. The old joke that compares life in a bowl of granola has easily been applied to both Boulder and California. Flakes and nuts. It's true of a lot of places on the globe, but I staked a claim on the northern coast of the Golden State, and moved out to an even smaller apartment with the woman I loved. In California.
I'm starting to acclimate, twenty-three years later. Happily, Google Maps and GPS have made generating those ruts an endeavor that has only taken a couple decades. The fear that I felt once upon a time about leaving Colorado is now the fear I deal with when ti comes time to consider leaving California. This is where I live now. It's where I vote. It's where I raised a son. It's where I fell in love a hundred different times with my wife. It's where I buy my cheeseburgers. In California.