While driving up to Shasta County on Friday, I thought, “This is it. This will be the visit where I will finally realize that I am not meant to move back. I will make peace with having to let go of this homeland, and I will be freed up to put my roots down somewhere else.”
I have been feeling more grounded in the Bay Area, which often happens for me in the spring and summer, when I am gardening, and the days are longer and city folk open up to engaging. And so I thought that perhaps this would counter my experience with being home. However, like an amnesiac who convinced herself that her pieced together story was true, as always, the land reached up through me and woke me up to the real life inside.
The thought that kept reoccurring this weekend was, “There is room for me here.”
A sense that I could stretch out, and also simultaneously be received. There is a competitiveness in city living, both literally as shown in a struggle to establish career and also metaphorically…there is only so much ground, so much space, and everyone is vying for it.
Surprisingly, I rarely have a conversation with folks in the city about ecopsychology. From lack of interest or from oversaturation, I often feel like my therapy practice is a little bubble inside a bigger bubble. Isolated and kept by those in the know. This is part of the challenge of working in an emerging field. But there is something else going on. Because this weekend I had three separate conversations with total strangers about ecopsychology, and I’m not someone who really gets into chatting with strangers in the first place. What I discovered was a deep thirst for this kind of work, and each time I heard, “Wow, I never get to talk to someone like this, it’s so refreshing.”. At the farmer’s market, I got into a deep connection as the mustard greens were being weighed, about “Last Child in the Woods” and the conjoining of the nature of politics with nature herself. The message was loud and clear.
“There is room for me here. I could make a go of it, and be successful. They want what I have.”
My experience in the Bay Area is the exact opposite. I have to expend all my energy just to be heard above the din of all the other professionals in my field, all the other folks crying “Look at me! No, look at me!”
Perhaps a trite, but very telling example in the difference of my experience, is the stark contrast in my thrift store luck between there and here. Here, I often have the sensation that someone else got lucky, that someone else scored and I am picking over what the other scavengers left behind. This weekend, I was the one that was lucky. And I left plenty for someone else. Abundance vs. scarcity, plenty for all as opposed to eking out sustenance. (Hey man, thrift store luck is what I live on.)
Some of you new to this blog may be thinking, “We’ll, just move then, silly!” (We’re in a complicated situation with our desire to live rurally, our financial situation and our need to live close to Jeff’s son.). Others of you may be thinking, “Heard it all before.”. It’s true, it’s the same old story. I guess I’m just surprised at how strong the pull still is, given how open I’ve been to being pulled somewhere else.
Whatever our future holds, the deep truth of my love and sense of belonging in this funny redneck corner of California begs to be accepted. Like a woman separated from a husband of many years, I keep trying other lovers only to realize they just can’t compare to someone who knows your soul.
On Saturday we visited the Turtle Bay Nature Museum and Preserve. As we rounded a corner we encountered the wild grace of a captive grey fox. As it leaped around its enclosure, it was nearly able to climb the walls, pouncing and prancing better than a cat. I was transfixed, and I was reminded of the baby grey fox I rescued 12 years ago. I scooped him up from near death on the side of 299, gave him water, and he pressed himself against me with such gratitude, mewing sweetly. This past weekend I dreamt that the fox we saw leapt onto my lap, pressing his delicate paws onto my chest and staring intently into my face. It was a look that said, “I know who you are. I see you. I recognize you. You recognize me.”
That sense of being known is my quintessential experience of this land. Being held in all my totality, all my fullness. It is bittersweet, but I am so grateful for it.
Happy to be back. I missed you all and I have some fun foraging tales for later this week.