Monday, July 10, 2017

Thoughts on connecting to a new city

It was only two years ago when my husband and I loaded a u-haul with all of our belongings, no less during a morning in which it was both humid and pouring outside. The elevator in our building also decided to stop
working that day, so up and down the two flights of stairs we went, with boxes, baskets, and furniture in hand. Even after having sold items and donating more items, the process of packing the truck felt never ending. And the amount of stuff we had seemed to have multiplied. But we finished and spent that night camping out in sleeping bags on the floor, with the only sound coming from the buzzing of our fan, and the little night life that kept going until the wee hours of the morning.

I guess upon leaving all of that, I thought a new adventure would promise excitement, due to new places to explore. But after living in Houston for two years, I haven't been able to identify with the Texas spirit, aesthetic, or Tex Mex. I do think they are some of the nicest people, except on the roads, when manners are clearly non-existent. And they do have some great food, even though it took us nearly two years to find all the good spots! But as far as connecting to the city, I never experienced that. Although the news of moving to Monterey felt a bit safe, as though we were moving somewhere familiar, I had never been to Monterey before. But after being here for two weeks, I have found the process of connecting to this city to be slow, but good. Our first week was spent in an AirBnB, less than a mile from the water, which led to evening walks along the water's edge, watching the sail boats coast by, spotting seal, and tasting clam chowder. But our second week wasn't as glamorous. Our moving truck was delayed for a week, so we moved into our apartment with our carryon suitcases, and slept on our (recently delivered) mattress on the floor.

As a result, I've had to approach this move differently than our last one. Instead of taking the city by storm, as though on vacation with a list of things to cross off my list, I've taken it rather slow, as I hope to come to know this place through experience and discovery. So far my favorite things to do have been walking around Carmel-by-the-sea and walking along the water at dusk, when the cool air requests a light sweater, and the mist and fog begin to overtake the mountains in the distance, making its way to the sea. The sea breeze and the sound of sea gulls almost demand a sense of stillness and acceptance for a slower and meditative lifestyle. I look forward to the time our son arrives and we head to the ocean for walks in the evenings.

Although I will give it time, I'm not sure Monterey will feel like home for me. It may end up feeling like another phase, or midway point to our next destination. I've never seemed to associate any city with home, so the idea that home is where my family is does resonate with me. But I am all for exploring and awaiting that destination that will make us want to set up a bit of roots. But for now, I am looking forward to uncovering the treasures that lie here – in Monterey. Perhaps I'll end up seeing it like John Steinbeck once did in Cannery Row, as "a poem, a stink, a grating noise, a quality of light, a tone, a habit, a nostalgia, a dream."


  1. Beautifully said... I've lived in so many places, and moved around so much, that I associate home mostly with certain foods, family and quiet. Monterey sounds very much like my kind of place, but I think we "click" more with certain places at different points in our life. I hope it will start feeling like home to you soon.

    1. You make such a good point about how we click more with certain places depending on where we are in life. I think living here will be good for this current season of life, especially as I adapt into the role of motherhood. The scenery and pace here feels slow, but in a good way. There is a small town vibe to this place, with beautiful scenery, and it's not too far from San Francisco, so I think it offers a little bit of everything. I think my heart is just always anticipating where we'll end up next, but I really want to also be present and see the beauty in where I am today. :)