In August of 1996 I moved down to a small college town on the Central Coast of California in what was sure to be The Next Great Chapter in the tale of my epic life. Clearly I was full of that specific kind of arrogance that one only has right as their college years begin and I had waited so long on this precipice of independence that when I was finally able, I took a running swan dive off a cliff into the sparkling abyss below.
Unfortunately college, for me, was very shallow water the first time around.
While I loved the town I was in, at 17 I was just not ready to be on my own and responsible in the ways that were demanded. Looking back the demands were so few, but at the time they felt like the weight of the world, and after only a couple of years I knew it was time to go back home. I needed to regroup. I needed a new goal. I certainly needed a new boyfriend and frankly, I needed a new life. Be careful what you wish for.
In hindsight, this was also the first time in my semi-adult life that I absolutely led with my gut. Somewhere in my mind I just KNEW that packing up and leaving was the right decision, and as I’ve gotten older I have remembered this particular moment when I’ve needed to trust myself. But at the time, when you added up the facts it was a disastrous choice — Cal Poly was an amazing education and I was just throwing in the towel. San Luis Obispo was a safe and small town (uh…for the most part) with so many amenities that I was trading in. But at the time I didn’t care what the facts said, my heart said “Go back home. Now.” And as August of 1998 unfolded, I realized why.
A year later, in August of course, I found myself heading south again. I would spend a few years in Los Angeles losing myself and finding myself (over and over and over — it kept me quite busy actually) and after a while I knew it was time to head back home again. Home looked a little different this time — it was a new city, Sacramento — and my mom was living there alone without my dad. But I was ready to finish college, it was a slower pace of life than LA and I needed the change. This time I wasn’t so bold to think I needed a new life — I was still scarred from the result of that wish the last time — but I was open. Open to whatever and whoever was coming next.
I enrolled at Sac State and rented a bedroom in a (what would end up being a CRAZY) 5 bedroom house that would ultimately be occupied by 4 other female students. I didn’t know a soul in town and I wasn’t quite ready to live alone. This seemed like a somewhat less scary option and I packed up my car and started my new life on August 13 of 2002. It was over 100 degrees that day, and if you have ever packed and unpacked your life on a day that hot, I tip my hat to you. It was a rude awakening and I will not lie, there were many times that day I thought that The Universe must be telling me that I had made the absolute wrong decision. I was coming from an apartment 11 blocks from the beach. From a job where I was successful. From a town where I had made friends close enough to call family. And now I was here. In the fiery furnace of hell, living out of boxes and not knowing a soul.
Shortly after I unpacked — sweaty, alone in the house, and super disheveled — Sarah walked in. I’m sure she thought I was a hot mess. She and her brother were carrying her mattress up the stairs and somehow or another it got away from them, went sliding down the stairs, and crashed through the glass partition in our front door. It was just the perfect icing on such a craptactular moving day that the only thing anyone could do was laugh hysterically.
After that day, Sarah and I spent the next 6 years as roommates. We both finished college, had many fun days and long crazy nights, and after graduating we even both moved on to our Real World Jobs with the same company (that 8 years later we both still work for!) I used to always joke that no one lives with a person that long unless they are married, and most people seem to agree, but something about our friendship has just defied the odds, you know?
A few years ago, Sarah moved back home. What is coincidental is that Sarah’s “home” is the Central Coast, so she has an intimate knowledge of this gem of our state that I had to leave all of those years ago to come back to my home. We didn’t know each other then, of course, but the geographic overlap of our coming of age created a common bond. Garrett + I love to visit her whenever we have the chance, not only because it is a beautiful place and always sort of nostalgic, but because there are only handful of people in life for which you can go months and months without communicating, but then pick right back up where we left off — and Sarah is one of those people for both of us. Years of shared history does that in the best way.
All of this is on my mind because this weekend we are heading down to San Luis Obispo to celebrate Sarah and her awesome fiance’s wedding. On Saturday night they will be married, and I was thinking about it all last night the only way to describe how I am feeling about the whole situation is joyous. I am not a super mushy wedding person, but something about the way this wedding has weaved together so many threads of my life just feels a little special. I can’t wait to be in this town, with my love, watching these two have this particular moment. It feels like a little wink from The Universe. But more importantly, it feels like another wonderful reminder that everything is unfolding just as it should.