This January, with two-weeks notice, Clint and I filled a 24′ Budget truck and hauled ourselves and our life’s possessions (so many possessions) to Northern CA for Clint’s first permanent job. It was simultaneously exciting, horrifying, isolating, uniting, and numbing. A move like this on such short notice (job offer on January 3rd, in the truck and on the road by January 17th) shakes you to your core and shows you what you’re made of. As it turns out, I’m amazingly resilient and life is full of beautiful surprises.
Now that we have been here for 6 weeks, I feel overwhelmingly like this was the perfect fit. We live “behind the redwood curtain” in a relatively isolated part of the Northern California coast that is protected from extreme weather (it’s currently 46 F and overcast but the average year-round fluctuates between 45 and 65 F) and rich in culture. Despite the small size of the tri-town area (Eureka’s population is 26,913, Arcata’s is 17,697 and McKinleyville’s is 15,177) we have theaters, diverse restaurants, and unique local shops. What sets this place apart for me, is the emphasis on the activities we can do without opening our wallets. Arcata, Eureka, and Fortuna all have their own incredible redwood parks/trails. In the same day, you can easily make it from the redwoods to one of the many gorgeous beaches and enjoy a view of the bay, or if you have an extra hour or so, go rockhounding while the ocean beats against the rocks. Speaking of hounds, did I mention that most of this is dog-friendly? Ette thanks you!
I am definitely more of a woods person than a beach person, but it’s hard to argue with a view of the bay on your way to hike the redwoods. It often doesn’t seem real. What is most unreal to me, is the fact that I’m already employed. I quit my job and moved to California with few prospects, but here I am, severely underemployed, but employed! I managed to get a job by partaking in a phone interview at a truck stop on my drive to CA. A crying cat in a carrier on my car’s hood, I rattled off answers to questions in the middle of my second ~10 hour driving day (of 4). It’s hard to feel confident about that kind of performance. Thankfully, I got the job anyway, and I am an Adult Ed. Associate Faculty member for College of the Redwoods. This semester I teach three classes: an ESL class at the Fortuna Multi-Generational Center, an ESL class at Eureka High School, and a GED class at Table Bluff Reservation. These classes are all so important to the community and I feel like this work has a different intrinsic value than what I have done in the past. It is challenging in new ways and it makes me reconsider a lot of what I know about classrooms (the physical spaces and the mental construct) and about teaching. This job demands a lot of driving and offers me time to consume and consider this gorgeous landscape.
Thankfully, I have been possessed by the scenery and have little to no interest in buying anything. This is huge for me, because I have always relied on retail therapy at every stage of my life. In fact, I was raised to believe that most sour moods could be cured by a new dress. Today, however, I have no money and I am surprisingly okay with it. Shaky, unable to guarantee healthcare, totally in the pits of despair when a surprising bill comes along, but not wishing I had a new outfit or a pair of shoes to show off to my friends. Of course, this is in part because I do not have friends to show those shoes to. Making friends in a brand new place takes time and social exposure. At this point, however, I am only able to go to work and then come home. I come home to a beautiful house with a gorgeous, inviting interior, a garden, a deck, and a view of the bay, though, so it all works out.
So, who wants to come visit!?