I haven’t yet written much about our trip to California. I wrote daily while we were out there, as my internal space opened up like the desert I was surrounded by. But upon returning home, in an attempt to get back to our routine and find a sense of normalcy among the ensuing pandemic, much of what I found on our trip took a backseat.

It’s well known that I have a serious case of wanderlust. I’ve spent the majority of my life taking whatever chances I can to see new places and explore my favorites again and again. Often jumping in my car to drive to the beach by myself, leaving my mother to spend my entire trip worrying between my updates. But it wasn’t something I could just not do. Travel is a part of who I am, and everywhere is a part of me. Every bit of travel I have taken in my life has changed me in its’ own way, but California changed me in a new way.

The views in the desert are endless and open. Untouched. Free. There are countless places where you see nothing but our beautiful Mother. The air has a clean feeling to it, and smells of metamorphic rock, cacti, and bryophytes. I could think out there. Truly and clearly. And for the first time in my life, in all my traveling, I felt zero pull to come back home. For the first time in my life, I felt like I could be at home there, where I was at that exact moment. I know this is mostly because I had my kids with me. If they weren’t with me, I’d have felt ready to go back home after the first couple days. But there was no feeling in me that I was missing anything. I had completely removed myself.

It was a weird feeling, but a freeing one. The house we stayed at in Joshua Tree felt like a home. I went out every morning and sat on the lounge chair with my coffee and my journal, listening to the doves that made their home there too, looking out at the Little San Bernardino Mountains, thinking about how at peace I felt, and how long it’s been since I’ve felt that kind of peace.

I’ve spent most of my life trying to balance my desire to continue nurturing my roots with my need to find the pieces of myself that live elsewhere. I know where I come from, that’s never been a question. My kids were the eighth generation to live in my maternal grandparents house. I have the lineage on my fathers side way back to the generations that came here from across the big pond, as well as most of my mothers side. But where am I going? That’s a different question altogether.

It’s weird to grow up with a big family surrounding you, supporting you, and then having it all gone before your life is even half over. I still have family, but it’s not the same as a mother, or father, or grandparents. My mother was my best friend, a constant. She held a place that no one else could. And for the most part, since she’s gone, I’m on my own in life.

And I’m okay with that. Because there is a freedom in being alone. And when my kids sprout their wings and take flight, I will have the opportunity to do so too.