Yesterday my cousin came out from the city and we all climbed into the minivan, heading to Hacklebarney Farm in Morris County where we walked the corn maze, drank fresh apple cider, ate cider dogs with cider kraut (unexpectedly delicious), and picked pumpkins from one of three fields. I thought back to last October, the West LA parking lot that had been turned into a pumpkin patch complete with pony ride and stacked hay bales. Rolling country hills versus sprawling city. West coast versus east.
It's not that one is intrinsically better; last year was fun in its way and we signed up on the vendor's email list to get notified about this year's celebration. I'm not here to tell you that life is richer in every way now that we're here. Except, well, it kind of is. I don't know that it's the locale as much as it's us. I feel motivated here. I want to figure out what we can do on a weekend instead of falling into the same old rut. We have no predetermined rut, that helps. And I want to find opportunities to see my friends here instead of passively continuing inside the three-of-us cocoon we'd built ourselves there.
Did I know people in Los Angeles? Did I have friends? Some, yes. Could we have reached out and made ourselves a richer social world there? I'm not sure. I know I tried. At various times and in various ways. And it always felt like I was swimming against the current, my own personal swirl of water pushing me downstream, toward the ocean. Alone.
I don't know what might have been possible there if I'd tried harder or in different ways. All I know is that it's easier here. This past Saturday we had lunch at Dan's parents' house and spent the afternoon lazing and talking with them. Yesterday, another comfortable social connection with a beloved relative along with an apple-infused meal on grass dappled by sunlight and shade and then the crunch and rustle of dried corn stalks, followed by a hike in the woods nearby. Tonight we'll go out trick-or-treating with friends. This coming weekend we have a hiking date with different friends and tentative plans with still other friends. All people I really like, people I've known for a long time, people I'm glad to have back in the weave of daily – or at least monthly – life. And I'm getting to know some parents in Damian's class and liking them. Budding friendships? Maybe one or two. Too soon to tell. And I'm in no rush, though I would like to plan local play dates for Damian, and soon.
Life is not perfect here, I don’t mean to sound like a Polyanna version of myself. I have worries about how this will all fit together, whether and how we'll buy a house again, how we'll make money, how Dan's commute will turn out once he has work, how I'll thread the disparate strands of work and my fiction and parenting into a whole once he's away in the city and I'm semi-single-mom again. And this is a fairly wealthy town and that carries with it its own oddness, because we're not as well off as many families in Damian's class -- nor as poorly off as others, I should add, which leaves us in a strange in-between state once again. So it's not like we stepped through a looking glass and now our lives work fully and completely. But we've only been here six weeks (as of today, in fact) and it already feels like more of a life than we had there. And that's remarkable to me.