The ocean is laden with fog today.
I know this despite not having even gone outside yet because I can see to the water from my kitchen window.
I won’t lie, this may play a part in the fact that I mind washing dishes so much less lately.
We live in a real neighborhood for the first time in years, not in some shitty shoe box apartment the middle of town. There are no words to express how much I hated the last apartment. It was listed as a one bedroom but it was really a studio with a large walk-in closet. Except the walk-in closet had a window and an adjoining smaller closet. That must have been either for a single occupant’s storage or for the man’s clothes if it was a couple like us.
Then entryway to the complex was beautiful because it was older, so the foliage had plenty of time to grow large and beautiful. There were walnut trees, cottonwood trees, and one pine tree. There were large flowers and bushes accenting the edges of the lawns, and there was a creek bed separating it from another complex of nicer and larger condos that were stratospherically out of our price range.
The creek bed was lined with trees and full of feral cats.
Somehow this place was located in a time/space jump, because it seemed like all the other tenants were Mexican families with children. The children became a wolf pack on sunny days (which there were many of because California, despite the wet weather this year, has been drought-central for about the last five) and would run the complex screaming until darkness had firmly settled its cloak around the West coast.
The screaming was all day long on weekends, especially in summer when the pool was open. It was punctuated by the calls of a bicycle snack vendor who used a bike horn to lure people out for overpriced chips with chili powder on them, and a woman with a bell for a similar purpose who cried, "TAMALES" at the top of her lungs for several minutes. There were also sounds that occurred at any time of the day or night: car alarms and horns, sirens, our neighbors fighting violently, cats yowling, dogs barking, bass, mariachi music, or both from people with absolutely no common decency, homeless people rooting through the dumpsters for cans, and the miscellaneous people, not necessarily tenants, who would wander through the complex shouting at each other or themselves.
The first eight months or so there was also a group of college students across the interior lawn from our unit. They would smoke pot in their back yard until all hours of the night and sometimes, often on Thursdays, they would have parties. One of the partygoers would inevitably end up sick and for some reason would choose to vomit somewhere on the lawn or surrounding bushes anytime between three and five AM, which is awesome when you like to sleep with your bedroom window open, have a very specific phobia, and have work the next morning.
This person is actually the primary of about three reasons I took antidepressants for a while when we lived there.
Between that, monetary issues because everything was fucking expensive (particularly rent for our closet), and some generalized anxiety resulting from my daily commute, I was a wreck for a little bit. Nothing compared to how I was moving here, but nine months after moving there I couldn’t compartmentalize anymore and even though I didn’t feel particularly depressed my doctor decided to put me on a moderate dose of Prozac to see if it would help my overall symptoms.
It helped. A lot.
But when we realized the time had come to move I had just stopped taking them and we couldn’t afford for me to get a refill, anyway.
It was all just really poor timing that I don’t feel up to digging into today.
The apartment complex was on the West side of Santa Rosa, which was great for us because it was less than ten minutes out of town and 30 minutes of beautiful forested countryside to the beach.
I think the beach drive is what I miss most, aside from people.
That drive was where we got engaged a little over two months before we moved. It hurts not to be able to visit it whenever we want to, but at the same time I’m so glad it was a special place and we at least still live close enough to it that we can go by when we visit his family in the Central Valley or friends/family in the Bay Area.
There are places here in Humboldt that remind me of Santa Rosa. That helps, but I think I’ll always miss it. That’s hard to admit because I always assumed we’d move away from there. If we decided to have a family it would take a long time to establish ourselves there and I don’t think we’d ever be able to do it the way we want to.
I don’t want to raise a family in an apartment. I don’t think it’s fair to children, not to have the space to play outside. I want to own property someday. I’m already tired of other people telling me what I can and can’t do in my home. Mostly I’m tired of people telling me I can’t get a dog or I shouldn’t have any pets at all because obviously I’m going to let them destroy the rental property.
I mean, don’t get me wrong, I love the smell of cat piss as much as the next woman, but if I didn’t care about my pets enough to really take care of them why would I have them? Why would I worry about letting my cats outside enough to keep them indoors if I wasn’t going to clean up after them and make sure they were taken care of?
It is my duty as a pet owner to provide the domesticated animals I keep with the best life possible and anyone who is not willing to do that does not deserve to have a pet. In some cases they deserve to be prosecuted to the full extent of the law.
And that is one of the few things I am truly passionate about.
I miss San Francisco being a little over an hour away, depending on traffic. I miss the drive across the Golden Gate, though I don’t miss receiving the $7.00 toll in the mail three to five weeks later. The thing is, we rarely had the money to drive to the city for anything other than family events. I think in two years we were able to go for dinner once. We always planned to go to the opera, but there wasn’t money for that either.
If we had made it a priority we could have, I’m sure, but especially after the first year when we were both starting to make decent money the other problems compounded and stacked on top of each other. We both were working full time and neither of us wanted to do anything when we got home. Often when I came home from work I still answered emails and Skypes from the factories in China, so sometimes I felt like I was never done working. That meant we would get something from the store or fast food for dinner and rarely did regular grocery shopping.
I hated the tiny water closet of a kitchen in that apartment and cooking in it was miserable because there was practically no counter space, the cooking area was a range on top of what I think may have been Maytag’s answer to the EZ-Bake Oven, circa approximately 1984, and much of the teeny tiny bit of navy blue counter space that existed was covered by dirty dishes because there was no dishwasher. The deal was that I cooked and he did dishes. Since I rarely cooked because of the aforementioned reasons, he rarely did the dishes. And I wouldn’t do the dishes because I was trying to press the point that it was his chore. Sometimes there were so many that it would take over three hours to hand was them all.
That is why I am so happy that I’m able to keep my kitchen clean and beautiful right now. I know it’s sanitary, I like the space, and it can be a safe place for me like it should be.
I know little pieces of my heart will always be in the North Bay, sprinkled around at my favorite places: a grain of sand at Kala, a larger piece at our beach spot, a little one at the Raley’s down the street (the most beautiful, clean, and spacious grocery store I have ever seen), and sprinklings here and there at places like Taps, Old Chicago, and Jamison’s Roaring Donkey in Petaluma, and El Patio in Santa Rosa.
I miss the happiness I was able to obtain there and the people who made it feel like home to me.
I can only hope I forge friendships half as wonderful here.
For now, though, I am able to keep myself content with watching the fog move over the ocean and seeing ships move in and out of the harbor from my kitchen, cooking delicious meals every day in a space I love, weeding in a garden I didn’t think I’d have for years still, and taking peaceful drives up the Northern California coastline to see elk, giant ferns, and even larger redwood trees.
And, of course, the open ocean. Because, let’s face it, that’s where my heart really has been this whole time anyway.