I returned from a week-long vacation in California a couple of days ago. (My jet lag is part of the reason I am writing this particular post, which required little or no research!) I try to get to California, where I moved from (to Florida) a few years ago, at least a couple of times a year to see my son, who still lives there. I also have many friends and acquaintances there, having lived in California for 26 years.
Petaluma, California, is a lovely town. Part of Wine Country, it has a population of at least 60,000, but still has a small-town feel. There is a downtown, which is missing from where I live in Florida. Although traffic is an issue everywhere, nothing is like the traffic in Florida. I noticed that the drivers in Petaluma did not feel the need to drive 90 miles an hour, and the traffic lights were not five-minutes long, as they seem to be here in Florida.
When I lived in California, I would think nothing of taking myself out to lunch (usually Chinese) along with a book to read. I have never done so in Florida and would not feel comfortable doing so. I don’t know why. In some ways, it just doesn’t feel like home.
But Florida is home because my daughter, son-on-law, and five-month old granddaughter live here, ten minutes away. And that is the only reason I am here, although I do love the climate. When I left for my week in California, it was in the low- to mid-80s in Florida and absolutely perfect. California was unusually cold and cloudy for May. No shorts needed! It was in the 50s, warming up to the low 60s for my last couple of days there. Funny, but I left Boston to move to a warm climate, and although northern California is not the tropics, it was a warm climate compared to Boston. Since I have arrived back in Florida, it has been in the 90s.
I did notice that I began to miss my villa in Florida a few days into my trip. So which is home? California or Florida? If home is where the heart is, then they are both my home. California has my son and many friends and acquaintances from my life there: tap dance teaching, writing. Florida has my daughter and granddaughter and a few new friends in addition to my oldest and best friend, who has lived in Florida for many years. She is four hours by car, but that is a lot closer than I was in California, five hours by plane!
When I visit California, I stay in a motel. A good friend invites me, but has too many dogs and cats for my allergies. My son lives with my ex-husband, so I can’t stay there! I have found a nice motel that is walking distance to a coffee shop and a Trader Joe’s. And the room has a microwave and fridge for storing leftovers from my many restaurant visits! And it is very clean, unlike the fancy Sheraton I stayed at once, where they cleared the rooms every few days. It was during the pandemic, but I stayed in the motel during the pandemic too, and it is cleaned every day.
Because I stay in a motel and don’t want to hang around a motel room, I schedule my time with friends in advance, so I know just what I am doing, and so I keep busy. I was very busy (and very full) during this trip. Usually, I have time to take a tap class when I am there, but no time this time. Here was my schedule:
Wednesday: Plane lands at 9:45 a.m. in San Francisco. Pick up rental car and have lunch on the way to Petaluma with a friend. Dinner with my son.
Thursday: Lunch with another friend and a walk around town and dinner with my son.
Friday: Coffee with a friend, lunch with another friend, happy hour with a group of teacher friends, and dinner with a writer friend.
Saturday: The reason I went to California at this particular time. The Bay Area Independent Publishing Association, of which I have been a member since 2010, has met via Zoom since the pandemic. Actually, I was on their board when I moved to Florida, so they set up a computer where I could sort of see the meeting. This was before Covid. Once Covid appeared, the group met on Zoom once a month, and I could continue going to the meetings. Well, they continue to meet on Zoom, but planned an in-person meeting and luncheon for last Saturday. I came in from Florida and someone else from Massachusetts. The president of the club came down from Portland, Oregon. It was a hybrid meeting, so you could attend on Zoom. I was looking forward to seeing some of the people who had joined since Covid in person, since I had met them only on Zoom. Unfortunately, many of them still came to the meeting on Zoom. Oh well. After the lunch I went about 40 miles north to my friend’s mother-in-law’s birthday party.
Sunday: Coffee with an ex, brunch with a friend, the symphony with a friend, and dinner with my son.
Monday: Lunch with a group of writing friends. Stopped in to see my son, who was working.
Tuesday: Coffee with a friend, lunch with another friend, and stopped by to say goodbye for now to my son. Got my flight at 10:35 p.m., which landed in Florida at 6:45 a.m. So tired!
I also managed to stop by and see a friend who owns a women’s clothing boutique downtown and my tax guy!
I am still tired, but now I know where home is. Florida……and California.