St. Pete Beach, June 2005

St. Pete Beach, June 2005

Ten years ago, I moved across the country to California. I had a newly minted degree in creative writing, less than $1000 in my bank account, and no reason to stay in Florida. Even so, I left a lot of things behind: an ocean that lit up at night along the edges of the waves; the restaurant where I learned how to wait tables and accept compliments; the woman who gave me my wings. I didn’t mind. I felt that I was moving toward something.

Between San Francisco and Monterey, May 2010

Between San Francisco and Monterey, May 2010

Five years ago, I moved across the country to New York. I had a newly minted JD, an offer at a big law firm, and a large pile of student loans. New York wasn’t my first choice, but it was a new job in a new city, and I’ve always been excited by new things. I left a lot behind: the farmer’s market with fresh, off -the-tree-that-morning peaches; the moody, untameable Pacific Ocean; family, and friends that were like family.  I minded this time.

This spring, we are moving again, back to California, back home.  I don’t have a job yet.  I should be terrified that I don’t have everything lined up, but I’m not.  I’m exhilarated.  For the past ten years, I’ve done what was expected of me.  College, law school, East Coast job, husband, house, child.  Check.  It hasn’t made me happy.

I’ve written here before about the impossibility of “having it all” and the need to decide instead to have it right.  For me, that means more time with my husband and my daughter.  It means letting go of what’s “expected” and doing what works.  It means time to write.  It means living somewhere that makes us happy, somewhere we have a support network of friends and family who love us.  It means going home.

And because it wouldn’t be New Year’s without a wish, here is my wish for you in the coming year:

Find the time for the people and the things that make you happy, and if you can’t find it, make it.  Do things for yourself, because you want to.  Ignore the people who tell you you’re doing it wrong.  Hug someone.  Smile at a baby.  And, as always, love and be kind to each other.