I am sitting at the airport in Ontario, California waiting for my flight. I am reading at Stanford today for a literary journal that published one of my stories and my stomach feels queasy. I always get the "why did I sign up for this" feeling when I do something different. I am having that feeling today.
I am outside of my comfort zone and inside of my comfort zone at the same time. I am in Ontario in the Inland Empire (the "IE"), the city I grew up in, and traveling to the Bay Area where I lived for two years while my husband was in dental school at UCSF.
I didn't stay for Adrian's entire dental school tenure. I arrived at the beginning of his second year. I was practicing law at the largest law firm in Houston, Texas and had to take the California bar. The day I found out I passed the California bar exam was the same day as our law firm prom and I got drunk on martinis to celebrate that I was finally free. I left the Bay at the beginning of Adrian's final year of dental school when my dad died unexpectedly of pancreatic cancer.
When my dad died, I felt an overwhelming need to come home to the IE. I found a job at a law firm in Riverside and stayed there for two years. Eventually, I realized I couldn't do corporate law any longer and ended up at the public defender's office. Adrian moved back four years ago and we (finally) got married and live in the High Desert which some call the HD.
The HD is located about 75 miles from LA. You take the 15 freeway north toward Vegas and our area is on the downhill slide where the Cajon Pass ends. Joshua Trees line the highway.
In the world of the IE, there are champagne cities like Rancho Cucamonga and Palm Springs and there are lower Budweiser type towns like my hometown of Ontario and San Bernardino. The HD falls somewhere below all of these places.
I hated the HD at first, but the area has grown on me. The air is clear and it is warm most of the year and blistering hot in the summer. Plus, it is closer to Vegas (about 2.5 hours). We live in a rural area on a dirt road but it is a peaceful paradise where you can wake up in the mornings and watch jackrabbits run free. Living there helps me connect to that creative place in my soul. And it is only an hour and fifteen minutes from LA with no traffic. People imagine those from the HD are hillbillies or what people call river rats (those who spend every weekend at "The River"). I am neither.
These are my airport musings. I watch as all of these people line up and wonder what they are thinking. Are they thinking of their home towns or their journey? Do people even reflect anymore?
They are calling us to board as I write these final words.
Time for another adventure. Bay Area here I come.