I think it is human nature to want to feel safe. At least it feels perfectly natural to me to want that. To want that sense of security, familiarity, travel among the known elements. To feel comfortable. It’s probably why I lived in California for so long, it was safe. I knew it. Pretty much every nook and cranny of it and the nooks and crannies I didn’t want to know I left alone. Though I can still remember when I first arrived there, it seemed so foreign and strange. And for I do believe it was years, I muttered about hating L.A. and wanting to leave. Yet, I never did. Why? I really couldn’t say. Perhaps it was because I just got used to it and too, where would I go? Back to Michigan with it’s cold winters and bad job market? Unless I wanted to build snowmen and cars there was nothing for me there either.
So, I stayed in L.A. and somewhere along the line I came to love it. I came to love the mostly clement weather. The sunshine. The fresh produce year round. The clubs, the music, the bizarre individuals who gravitated there. The shopping. The bargains. The fact that one out of ten homeowners had guest houses and they were cute and cheap and I lived in many of them over the years. In short, at some point it just became home to me.
Which is not to say that there weren’t things about it that annoyed me – the largely whacko politics, the streams of endless illegal immigrants that made ingress into certain neighborhoods nearly impossible, the smog, the noise, the weirdness. Part of me would always be a midwestern girl and that part would always complain about such things. Though after a while I just didn’t think about it – it was simply home.
Since my move from L.A. to the east coast though, I’ve been thinking a lot about it. What makes home to a person. What makes life seem safe. I’ve begun to notice all the many things (large and small) which I took for granted – where to find a bargain, drumming up work, where to find the best produce, finding a bank, grocery store and the dmv, the local triple a office, where to go to the movies, the library, used bookstores, which are the safe neighborhoods. The whole ball of wax. I guess it never occurred to me (why that is I can’t tell you) that there would be so many details that would be blank when I got here. It never occurred to me that I would feel a little wobbly and in fact, dizzy, disoriented and even a little lost. It may surprise you to know that I’ve barely driven since I’ve been here. The whole street pattern is so different from what I’m used to that I’m just too worried I’ll get lost or end up on the dreaded freeway which has a notorious reputation. I don’t really like to drive that much anyway, so having that as a phobia kind of cinches that, eh?
And I know I need to. I need to drive around and get to know the place. I need to find the details that make up one’s daily life. I need to develop new favorites, new places, new haunts. I need to find that way to make the new my home. To find the ‘safe’ in the new place. Wish me luck.