The other day I realized that I’ve now spent more time in Lassen County, California than any place I’ve ever lived except Ohio, my childhood home. It hasn’t been consecutive. I’ve left and come back, traveled for periods of time, but this is where the years have accumulated.
It’s a bit of a shock since it’s probably the place that has been the most difficult on a day to day basis.
There are things I love about living here. The high desert, especially with its stunning night sky, suits my taste for wild, open spaces. It’s a magical light show every night. I also love the fierce winds that tear over the mountain tops wailing and howling like a thousand banshees. Many people think the wind is upsetting, but I find it to be a kindred spirit, one who gives voice to things I’m afraid to speak.
The first time I left this little high desert town more than 10 years ago, I truly believed I would never be back. Yet when I did return I felt strongly that I was literally being pulled back here for some reason. That I was meant to be here. For what that reason is or was, I still don’t know and maybe I never will. And maybe that’s okay. But I do have some deep feeling that says, at least for now, I’m where I need to be. That the lessons life has in store for me are somewhere near by. That right now this is home.
Part of it may be my house. Up on the hilltop there’s a certain peace that I don’t feel when I drive down into the small town in the valley. There it’s like sandpaper. I’m constantly rubbing myself raw against the status quo of small town life. But on the hill it’s isolated and beautiful and I could easily and happily stay up here for days on end. It’s a writer’s dream and I’ve always been creative here in a way that I’m not in places that are smoother to my psyche and soul.
Other places have been far easier. In my twenties I spent most of my time between Santa Cruz and San Francisco where I talked to the ocean and felt a sense of belonging that I’ve never felt anywhere else. My years in Asia were a different kind of growing. I was so clearly an outsider that I was able to carve out a strange place for myself. I loved Mexico. San Diego just felt generic, neither good nor bad. And I’ve passed through other places along the way.
But for now I’m here. For whatever that means.