Monday, October 20, 2014

The Long Journey Home

New Jersey bound! Who drives a Prius dragging a trailer behind it almost 3000 miles? These weirdos right here

I moved back to the East Coast, so you probably thought that this blog was over, huh? Especially since I mostly started it 5 (!) years ago to detail my new adventures on the West Coast. Well since I can't shut up that notion is out the window, I haven't even come close to running out of things to say!

I left the Bay Area to move back to New Jersey on August 18, 2014. I moved to the Bay Area on August 16, 2009. So I was there for almost EXACTLY 5 years. Around the time I was leaving I was going to write this huge blog post reflecting on my time in the Bay and all of the crazy, insane things I went through, and what it all meant....but then I got tired.

Because I was pregnant.

Yes, two days before Roberto and I left on our road trip to drive cross country back home I found out. It was nuts, it was unexpected, but seriously, knowing me, what else could you expect?

You would expect a random Naderto baby, that's what
I could go into what the last five years in a brand new land, far away from all of my friends and family meant. Even now, after living back in the East Coast for almost two months, I still feel like I'm barely unpacking all that I've experienced. But then I realize something, I don't need to share all that right now BECAUSE THAT IS WHAT THIS ENTIRE BLOG IS ABOUT. Is it a chronicle of my struggles, my musings, my experiences outlining all of the cool stuff I did and the confusing ideas I had as to where my path would lead. So if you want to know what the last 5 years were like, you have pages of blog posts to enjoy :-)
The gist of it is this though, my five years in California basically beat the adulthood into me. Which is not what most people would imagine when they think of California. Hey, it's the Golden state, full of sunshine and happy chill people that hang out at beaches, eat organically and do yoga all day. Okay some of that is actually true, but I moved to California for one person, and that person was Roberto. I had no other people, no community, no friends! He was it! On top of that I got stuck in the economic downturn and ended up jobless for a year. A whole torturous yet wonderful year where I think I gave myself multiple ulcers while desperately trying to discover my true passions and direction.

And direction came slowly, but it came from all over the place. I became heavily involved in local California politics, then state and national politics. I was elected to be a delegate to the Democratic National Convention, I helped co-found the Black Young Democrats of the East Bay (which to this day is one of the things I have been involved with that I am the most proud of). I served on a gazillion boards, I fought for American Muslim Civil Rights, I organized with South Asian groups, I worked with and taught refugee communities, I ran an inner city program for black and brown youth, I blogged like crazy, I read and wrote poems about and with South Asian women on stage in San Francisco. I joined fellowships. I was appointed to a State Assembly Women's committee, and all this random craziness led to me being recognized on a GOOD 100 list of activists. I made friends, a whole gang of them. I have proof that they exist, they came out en mass for my West Coast wedding. I made a new West Coast mom and West Coast sister. I gained an entire family where I worked, the first time that's ever happened at a job for me.

Some more family I've adopted along the way

I also had my first major mental and emotional melt down on the West Coast. It never got that bad until I was in California, alone, jobless, friendless and just absolutely, completely and utterly lost and broke...oh and did I mention how broke I was?

But  I survived you California! I did! And you made me strong as hell. Now I am incubating a bun of awesomeness, I have a  husband and Prius with over 130,000 miles on it, and two of the most amazing cats in the world to show for my time. I have friends I will never forget or stop loving because of it.

And now I am back home, a somewhat different person, a strangely adult person. Perhaps more worldly, and probably bit crazier than before, but either way, I am irrevocably changed. 

This past weekend, I spent time with a family who adopted me and who I lived with for two years straight after college and before moving to the Bay Area. I had dinner at a home I first visited eight years ago. As I pulled into the driveway of this home I couldn't help but reflect on the 22 year old that showed up to that home eight years ago. That person was so full of fear and confusion as to what the future held. I had been single for almost three years at that point and saw any semblance of a romantic relationship as a traumatic lesson in futility. I came to that home in someone else's Prius. I didn't have a car, an apartment, or a job. I was a lost leaf floating haplessly in the wind. 

My East Coast family
Contrast that to this Sunday. Now I was driving up in my own car, married and expecting, with a full time job, my own apartment and though I am still wracked with uncertainty, I have taken it as a fact of life. None of us really know where we are going, and maybe, just maybe I have started to make peace with that.

Home has been a very winding road back, but the person who showed up to this home eight years later would not have been this person today without my five years in California. You've left a mark, West Coast, home may be where the heart is, but I realize that my heart is actually scattered, amongst people I love all across the country. And maybe I wouldn't have it any other way.