South for the Winter - Girl of Cardigan

About three years ago, a year into motherhood and five or six into life here in Portland, I started to dream about the desert.

Sweeping, epic, silent dreams – quiet landscape visions that burrowed their way deep into my memory and echoed around through my daytimes.  I dreamt of the desert, and spoke of it, and longed for it, so much that a friend returned from a Southern California trip with a tiny piece of sagebrush pressed between her journal pages for me – the scent of a wild thing, a crushingly thoughtful gift.

The desert pull, specifically the strong desire to plant myself in a silent space in Joshua Tree and write, began to carve an opening into my long-held stubborn belief that Portland, city that I love, city of my heart, would be our only and forever home.

Home is a thing that bends, and moves, and changes.

I grew up with the sea in close proximity – a short drive, a long walk from my grandparent’s doorstep, a safe place, mine.  I grew up with the California coastline woven into my way of seeing.  I grew up with sand in the shoes of my belonging.

The pieces have clicked, slowly – through visits, changes, friendships, ideas, that echoing sagebrush pull, and when I first saw the text message, I knew.

“Do we want to move to San Diego?”

Noel’s company has offered him a position in San Diego, and he has accepted, which means that as winter falls over Portland this year, we will be migrating south.  We will be planting new roots, at least for a season, by the sea.

And a stone’s throw from the desert.  The ocean and the desert.  Water and fire.

We went back and forth for a while with this decision.  How do you say to a city, to a state full of family and friends and faces you love: “This feels like the right thing, this risk, this change”?  How do you measure the loss of so many of you within arms reach, the new long-distance shapes to which relationships will be forced to adapt, the wide daredevil magic of starting somewhere, where we are unknown and untethered?

To say we will miss this place, miss you… I couldn’t possibly overstate how much.

But I knew in my gut from the moment he said the words, knew like the desert and the sea and the slow-building patterns we all recognize, knew the way you know when you meet someone who matters for the very first time.  I think the thing I trust most in the world is the way that life will put the wind at your back when you are moving in the right direction.  I believe our hearts are guided, and I can look back over the last three years and see all the puzzle pieces clicking neatly into place:

Of course we are here now.  Of course this is where we were headed.  Of course this is where we are going.

South for the Winter - Girl of Cardigan

So.  This January, we are both leaving home and returning to it.  We are sad, and excited, scared, and overwhelmed.  We’ll need your help here and there, and we’ll want to see your faces and hug you fiercely before we go.

And there will be a place for you in San Diego when you visit.  A little bit of it now also becomes home to you, because our home is yours, always.  Hearts too.  Full stop.

Girl of Cardigan



  • Barbara Miller January 7, 2017 at 1:35 am

    Welcome to San Diego! I have followed your post from here for the past three years, drawn by your warmth, insight and extraordinary writing skills. So, welcome! I look forward to reading your posts, Girl of Cardigan, even if you have to add flip flops to your wardrobe!