I miss California.
This line has ran through my head all day, as the air begins to bite, as my feet get and stay cold. Morning breaks and Joe opens his windows. It smells like the season, and it reminds me of one year ago, when I left New Jersey for California.
I lived in Los Angeles for only 9 months and planned to be there for longer. I was to come back after my sister had her baby in September and I ran my race in Denver. I had a ticket bought for the 24th of September but the plane I caught in Colorado was not bound for LAX. My ticket back to LA went to waste; I watched the plane board before I got on mine, just one gate over.
A month ago, I met Joe and knew immediately that going back to California was going to be different now. But I still wanted to; I still planned on it. Despite the strength of our feelings from the start, thinking otherwise was foolish. I had plans.
Two weeks ago, I watched my niece take her first breath and felt changed, too. Like staying here and being near her was imperative. Necessary.
And then, three days later, a new doctor stood in front of me, holding my blood work results–a thousand symbols I don't understand– and told me I had to stay here in New Jersey. That right now my health was too unstable to keep moving around; that I needed a team of doctors to handle my care; that there were lines to be crossed and tests to be done. I need comprehensive care, something I've let go of as I lost insurance.
For years, I have stretched out my denial as I have stretched out my youth.
I have moved constantly, traveled well, and bristled at the thought of leases or permenance. I have fit my youth in with doctor's appointments. I have given up a career and hesitated to start another. I have lived like I was healthy, like my body could handle another bruise.
But I need to take care of myself now so that I can live longer later. That's what my doctor told me a few days after Sadie was born, and a week after I met Joe and started picturing that longer life. A longer life I have never given much thought to; a life I have not planned for, for fear of jinxing myself, my health. But it's a life I want and deserve.
So now I am being forced to stay in one place. To sit still and get well. And part of me truly hates that I am not back in California, that I have lost my life there, if only temporarily. I hate that I will rely on my parents to house and feed me.
A year ago, when I was hungry for change and a different coast, I would be devastated. It would crush me, this step backward. In some ways, it still does. But when I hold Sadie or laugh into Joe's chest, it feels like a step forward, too.
So this time, I will do as the doctors say. I will stand here. I will be patient and I will trust my instincts to take me where I ought to be.
To thrill me, hold me, and push me closer toward the life I covet.