Friday, August 24, 2012

Where I Am // Driving, Stopping, Wondering

I'm sitting in a friend's studio apartment in East Oakland while she's out of town for the next few days. I feel incredibly lucky to be here. I arrived in the Bay Area last week, via a long drive up from Santa Barbara along CA-1. 

The drive from Santa Barbara can take as little as four hours, depending on the driver. I took about ten. I pulled over often, but not nearly as often as I wanted. I passed through rolling hills that reminded me of Antelope Valley, farming towns I didn't know existed along the 1, and would slowly around the turns through Los Padres National Forest and Big Sur. Ocean to my left, verdant forest hills to my right, I had to force myself not to be distracted from the winding road. I maneuvered anxiously at first. Had to turn off my music so I could be present with the sharp turns while being distracted by the beautiful scenery around me. I kept stopping every thirty or forty minutes even after telling myself to drive for at least two hours before stopping again; it was hard to resist taking time to take things in. And I had to stop for California poppies:

I've decided I have to look up climbing and camping in San Luis Obispo, visit Pie Ranch for a workday, and figure out what this place is:
There were pretty white & brown cows grazing on the other side where I stopped. I want to visit.

There is so much to see. And this was just in a 300-ish mile stretch of coast. The world is so vast, with so much to experience. I spend a lot of my time trying to strategize ways to see as much of it as possible. 

I'm entering my time in the Bay Area torn between wanting to build a life here intentionally, without the internal struggle that I felt in Los Angeles, and considering this a rest stop on the way to somewhere else. I'm seeking a middle ground between thinking in terms of permanence versus transience. There can be an in-between. A good friend told me I ought to stay here at least a year. And I can imagine that, and more; I like it here in the East Bay. There is sun, cool wind, trees, the air is clear and the tap water is tasty. Today I took a walk and ate a blackberry off a vine (which is apparently an invasive species 'round these parts and northward). There are so many wonderful people to connect with, old friends and new, and new-old and old-new. People I haven't shared a city with in years. And there are still projects in Los Angles to work on.

Then there's the part of me that is hungry for more exploration. For unfamiliar earth that is more unfamiliar, that is farther away. There is the very hungry part of me that wants to seek and be open to and create(!) opportunities to go abroad. 

It's an interesting place to be-- this state of trying to remain open to everything, and at the same time understand that my intention is not simply to be a drifter. Intentionality has been brought up a lot over the last year, and as I try to articulate my own intentions for my time on this planet, I find that the truth is not a statement that fits very well on a resume or in a cover letter-- to be a human being. 

So I have to think about what I want to do as a human being. How do I want to affect the world around me? How do I want to contribute to it? Is it through writing and publishing? Is it through community organizing? Through tending a fantastic garden? Becoming a certified guide and taking youth of color rock climbing and camping? There's so much to consider-- I was told that I need to make decisions so that I can spend less time deciding and more time accomplishing things. Now, I'm not exactly all about just accomplishing things, but maybe I need to take some of that (and this) advice to heart. 

Maybe I'm supposed to do everything I have vaguely considered doing? Imagine that. Life is long, right?